A member of a Williamstown town board grappling with the affordable housing issue said at a recent meeting, "We must decide what kind of town we want to be."
I saw a telecast of the meeting on Willinet when I was sitting home alone, but I did not hesitate to answer:
I loved Williamstown from the first time I saw it back on Labor Day weekend in 1982.
My son, Christopher, was starting his first year as a Williams College student, and my husband was at the wheel of our 1970 Dodge with me at his side in the passenger seat and Christopher in back, as we drove to the college, trunk jam-packed with some of his belongings and the rest in two suitcases strapped to a rack on top of the car.
At that time, a quaint sign at the head of Spring Street read: "Village Beautiful." In later years, the sign was irreparable damaged during a storm and replaced with what I call a generic sign which just referred to the town as "Williamstown." But I will forever think of Williamstown as the "Village Beautiful."
We did not have much time for sight-seeing or shopping that weekend, but we did dash into a store called "The Slippery Banana," where the aroma of deli food made one's mouth water. The sandwiches we bought staved our hunger while we helped Christopher unpack.
Everyone on Spring Street seemed genuinely interested in helping us navigate our way in what was an unknown area to us. And that evening when we returned
At night, as we turned in at the bed and breakfast where we were staying, I was amazed at how quiet it was. No planes overhead, no cars screeching, no kids hanging on the corner - portable radios blaring.
The next day, Sunday, we attended Mass at St. Patrick's Church on Southworth Street. I was surprised that all the women left their handbags in the pew when they walked up to the altar to receive Holy Communion. It would not occur to me to do that in the church I attended in New York.
But I was a born and bred city girl and had never even imagined myself living anywhere else.
Then when my husband took early retirement and the Long Island Expressway was being expanded, bringing it even closer to our home, the construction noise, including dynamiting - as well as the thought of heavy traffic going by our home every day at all hours - sent us house-hunting.
My husband and I had been looking for a house in the suburbs within our means without any luck for a month. Then one weekend as we were driving Christopher to Williamstown, he said, "Mom, why don't you move here, where you love it?"
My husband jumped at the idea. I admittedly was a bit dubious that I would be able to adjust to country life. Besides, the only people we knew by name in Williamstown were Mrs. Judge, who ran the bed & breakfast we stayed at, and the wonderful Art LaFave who ran the garage on Spring Street that had helped us when our car overheated.
When we moved to Williamstown in 1988, it did not take me long to realize that it was one of the best things we ever did.
Yes, I love Williamstown as it is, peaceful and beautiful, with mountains seeming to shelter us from harm, unfenced lawns and backyards that meld together into one sprawling field of grass and a community where people care for each other.