Some references claim that America is a land of gypsies because very few of us live out our lives in our original hometown. However, I’ve talked to quite a few people about that, and what most of them said was that they really loved their hometown, but they just weren’t able to stay there.

Why? The two primary reasons for it were: (a) Many small or medium sized towns lack sufficient jobs for the youngsters who grow up in them. (b) Many people have to leave a small or medium sized town to attend college.

So, while it may be true that few of us live out our lives in the place where we were born, I don’t think that makes us a land of gypsies, do you? After all, most of us would have stayed in our hometowns if we could have.

Look at me. I grew to 11 years old on Staten Island in New York, and I would have always thought of Staten Island as my “hometown” except for the fact that five years after Daddy died Mom remarried, and we moved to New London. So I grew to manhood in New London, and it was, like Staten Island, a place I really loved. I’d have stayed there forever if it hadn’t been for a couple of changes I couldn’t control.

You see, I loved living near the sea, both in Staten Island and New London. Also, I loved living in a place with natural surroundings, a four-season climate, and people who are warm and friendly; and both Staten Island and New London had those things in abundance.

When Mom married Harry Johnson, a Connecticut Yankee, he took us to his hometown, New London, which was very much like Staten Island, but even more friendly and more blessed with lakes, streams, and forestland.

Going downtown to shop in New London was always a happy experience. To our surprise, we soon learned that people actually said hello to strangers on the streets there. Now, I would have been surprised if someone in our old neighborhood on Staten Island had said hello to a total stranger on the street, so having people do that to us in New London created a feeling of belonging; it really made us feel at home.

So why did I leave New London? Why am I here, a mile above sea level in a desert state? For the same reason that Bill, my oldest brother, bought a small piece of land in Prescott while he was stationed here for a while during WWII — he liked the warm, friendly, natural ways of the Southwest.

And how did I end up here? During the time that I spent 21 years in the Air Force, both Staten Island and New London changed so much they are no longer like the places I knew and loved while I was young; so I settled elsewhere.

Staten Island, which was mostly open land when I lived there, was ruined when New York City built two bridges to it, one from — my God! — Brooklyn, and one from New Jersey. The quiet, 58 square mile, largely unsettled island I grew up on suddenly changed to just another overcrowded part of New York, with a half million people living on it.

And while I was in the Air Force, some misguided members of the New London city council decided to make “improvements” that destroyed my beloved hometown — including even our beautiful house!

So here I am — at home again up here in Pine.

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