The Value Of Hometowns

No hometowns are better than Easton.


On May 4, 1979, Margaret Thatcher was elected prime minister of Great Britain. Prime Minister Thatcher would become one of the great leaders of the 20th century, and would be known as the “Iron Lady.”

Margaret Thatcher's political mentor was her father. And, in an interview on the evening of May 4, 1979, following her historic victory, Ms. Thatcher said, “Well, of course, I just owe almost everything to my own father. I really do. He brought me up to believe all the things that I do believe and they're just the values on which I've fought the election. And it's passionately interesting for me that the things that I learned in a small town, in a very modest home, are just the things that I believe have won the election.”

Love all of this comment – but for the purposes of this column, I highlight these words: “And it is passionately interesting for me that the things that I learned in a small town, in a very modest home, are just the things that I believe have won the election.”

So over these past few days and into this weekend, people from all over America have returned to the places where they grew up – including small towns.

I dare say that so much of what makes America exceptional – and, yes, it is exceptional – has been what men and women with the right values and right priorities have taken from their upbringing in small towns and applied and put it to use across every sector of society – from education to manufacturing to bricklaying to politics to medicine to preaching the word of God to farming to writing to painting to taking up arms and defending our nation to creating businesses that employ people and help make possible futures ... and on and on.

Values and priorities learned and acquired in small towns endow and help make possible the best parents, the best spouses, and the most noble and giving public servants.

Easton is not such a small town anymore. But it isn't a big town either. It is one of the best places to live in America. I mean that.

I have lived in New York City, and in Boston, and a short stint in a suburb of Washington D.C., but for the most part, my life has been spent in Easton. My life has been here as it has grown from small town to something bigger, if not yet a big town.

Small towns, big towns, cities, villages … whatever … for people they can all represent “hometowns.” And for those people who grew up in them and maintain a special affection for them – and if they hold on to and practice what is best about them, then they improve and make better society.

My sister, Suzy, appreciates the enduring value of hometowns

My sister, Suzy, and her husband, Mark, and their three children live out in Evanston, IL. My mother lives in a nice retirement community about a mile and a half from my sister and her family.

(By the way, Evanston Patch is an example – like Easton Patch – of the excellence in community-specific news that Patch is delivering across this nation.) 

My sister loves Easton, and maintains a strong bond with it. I mean, really, last February, when her family adopted from a shelter a boy puppy, a “Sheltie” – which is a Shetland Sheepdog/German Shepherd Mix – she named the dog Easton. Of course.

Suzy loves Evanston as well. Indeed, Suzy will tell you that if you just lift out the letters “v” and “n” from Evanston, you get Easton. Understood. Suzy is grateful that her children know a wonderful hometown in Evanston.

Earlier this week, on Tuesday, Suzy made a post on Facebook which focused on the importance of hometowns – and which was inspired in good part in that her son, Win, who is in his first semester in college, out in California, was returning back to his hometown, Evanston, for the first time since August.

Here is Suzy's post:

I've enjoyed everyone's postings this month about for what they are thankful. I have a good life and am grateful for so many things. But, tonight, I'd like to offer a specific thanks for hometowns. I am a Townie. My hamlet, Easton in Massachusetts will always be where my heart is, especially this week. But, I am deeply appreciative of this place called Evanston, Illinois. Win comes home tomorrow . He hasn't been home since August 14th. I know he is deeply excited to be in his house and with his family. But, it is not lost on me, that he has also yearned for Evanston. He wants to drive by his high school, sit on the beach, have a burger at his favorite haunt and most importantly, be surrounded by his posse. I know his life will take him far and wide. I also know that there are sophisticates out there that think being a Townie is perhaps low brow, not worldly. I can think of few greater gifts than for my children to be Evanston Townies. People who don't get hometowns, just don't get it at all.

This post received 74 “likes” on Facebook. There were many, many comments as well – including one I made which included a version of the Margaret Thatcher story with which I started this column.

Suzy is right. People who don't get hometowns, just don't get it at all.

I get Easton, this wonderful place. And I am immensely thankful for it.


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