A Tale of Two Villages

We live between two villages. It’s 4.5 miles down hill and east to Cornwall Bridge, 8 miles down hill and west to Sharon. I have always maintained that Cornwall Bridge is the perfect community, with one of everything: church, bank, gas station, general store, hardware store, liquor store, electrician, and post office — but we live in Sharon. Sharon has many more houses, a much larger town green featuring two churches, the town hall, and a library, and a shopping center. The shopping center has a post office, a laundramat, a bank, a drug store, a liquor store, a restaurant, and a locally owned supermarket. We go to Sharon almost every day to get the mail and pick up whatever we need from the supermarket or drug store and maybe stop at the library. But last week the supermarket closed. The owner was ready to retire and couldn’t sell the store, so he closed.

Somehow it feels as if the town has lost its center. At least, our lives will be re-oriented. The next nearest supermarket is another eight miles away. It will take twice as long to get there and cost twice as much for gas. And it will seem very odd to have to do our routine shopping somewhere else.

But who has a self-sufficient town anymore anyway? I noted not long after moving here that I went to church in Canaan, shopped in Sharon, saw a dentist in Kent, an optometrist in Lakeville, a general practitioner in Amenia, and got my haircut in Torrington, my chain saw repaired in Falls Village, and bought hardware in Cornwall Bridge. It takes eight towns to keep me going!

I grew up in a town about the size of Sharon, but it had two of everything: barbershops, car dealers, drug stores, hardware stores, groceries. Come to think of it, there were four groceries and a butcher shop besides – and the proprietors waited on you. And we walked there. None of the six nearest towns has a barbershop now or a car dealer. No wonder we’re so dependent on Middle Eastern Oil. It’s the hidden cost of all the shopping we do.

The stores and other essentials of life are moving further and further away and the communities we live in are changing. Isn’t it true that, increasingly, towns are collections of houses where there used to be stores? We may live in a community that still has churches, a school, and a post office, but increasingly we shop somewhere else and the churches have someone part time. We go to the mall. We go to the nearest big box like Wal-Mart and stock up. We see no one we know and talk to no one except maybe a clerk we will never see again. There are lots of people there, but no community.

A frightening number of people find their church that way too. They go to a big box church in the mall with a non-denominational self-help approach that makes you feel better but also draws people away from the place they live to associate with people with whom they have no other contact. We talk about a global village — but we’ve lost the local one.

Enough already! I’m showing my age. But Trotta’s Supermarket is gone and life will never be the same.


Top photo: Trotta’s Supermarket with a closing sign in the window.
Bottom picture: Sharon Green.


LibbyJanuary 3rd, 2009 at 6:54 pm

Well, we can still walk to three grocery stores, the post office, and a movie theater (among other things). It seems as if only cities offer that kind of convenience any more–but at pretty great cost.

AnonymousJanuary 13th, 2009 at 6:47 am

very fine, insightful.

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