Our Town, revisited

Mother taught high school drama, and, in the course of things, produced Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. It’s a play about a young woman’s untimely death, and her opportunity to go back and see what is happening in her town. Several times recently I have been reminded of that play.

It is easy to become detached from the town where you grew up when you go of to college, marry the man of your dreams, and move around the country as “corporate gypsies”. I’ve been gone from that little town for 45 years. The memories I have of my town are as dated as the poodle skirt, but I have nothing more current to put in their place.

When last we traveled to my home state, I made a point of visiting the cemetery to jot down family names and dates. It was stunning to look around and see so many familiar names on the tombstones. When did he die? She’s gone, too? I was surrounded, once more, by the adults of my childhood; this time, they were silent. I was sure that at any moment I would hear the voice of the Stage Manager, the narrator of Wilder’s play.

Yesterday, as I was pondering these things, I remembered the devoted town librarian.  That is, I remembered many things about her, how she loved birds, her knitting knowledge, her love of books and patience with young readers.  She was a single woman who was the caregiver for her aging parents.  It occurred to me that she would fit right in today.  The town pitied her behind her back, but she was a very strong woman.

Here’s the thing:  I couldn’t think of her name!  Forget the Olympics, forget my knitting, what was her name?  Thank heavens for Google!  I typed in “history of my town library” and poof, there was a wonderful narrative.  I learned things I had never known, and there was her name, as well.  She served the town as librarian from 1949 – 1966.  Rest in peace, Mary B.

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