A Small Town’s Biggest Thing is Gossip

Small town Neighbors help each other
Neighbors helping neighbors

Not too long ago, I answered a question asked on Quora.  For those of you not familiar with Quora, it is a social network “where you gain and share knowledge hoping to promote people to learn from each other.”  The subject of the question, “how do you deal with small town gossip?”, fell within my wheelhouse. My point of view about small town living shares with you a little insight I personally learned.

The idea of small town life appeals to me.  Norman Rockwell is my favorite artist. He and his art represent the epitome of small town life. Even he realized that gossip happens in small towns. His print of “Gossip” shows the humorous side of it but realistic. There is a nostalgic touch to everything I do, including watching old movies and preferring small town than city life. However, there is a downside to living in a small community. Namely everyone knows you, even if they may not know your name.

How gossip travels around town painting
Gossip by Norman Rockwell portrays the humorous epitome of small town life

Living in a town haunted by whispers of the past as well as its present for over eight years educated me on the subject of gossip. Today, Peyton Place is not as notorious a novel nowadays but back in the day, it certainly left its mark. Like myself, years earlier Grace Metalious resided in town with her husband.  Grace Metalious published one of mid-century America’s most controversial NY Times Best Sellers in 1956. As most authors, she wrote from her surroundings, background, and imagination.  The problem being her imagination was too close to reality.

She once stated “Even Tom Sawyer had a girlfriend, and to talk about adults without talking about their sex drives is like talking about a window without glass.”

The town of Peyton Place was a fictional collaboration of several New Hampshire towns: Gilmanton, the town where she lived with her husband (school principal). The town resented the insinuated notoriety causing gossip for years of its own. Laconia, and the neighboring towns of Alton and Belmont completed her backdrop. The village of Gilmanton Ironworks is where in December 1946, a daughter had murdered her sexually abusive father (upon who the book is partly based). The murder was investigated by the Sheriff of Belknap County, Homer Crockett, and members of the New Hampshire State Police.

Cover jacket for novel Peyton Place

Gossip, a rumor or report of an intimate nature, as defined by Merriam-Webster.    Mainly the side effects of gossip can cause catastrophic and lasting scars.  My children arrived in town as “flatlanders”, a term usually a label for Boston area commuters who invade the quiet hills and woods of New Hampshire towns.  So, they didn’t quite fit into the clique of native townie children because they entered the K thru 8 grade school as

“Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.

newcomers. They often received the butt end of criticism. Unfortunately, it traveled with them the entire time we lived there, except for my oldest.  He actually assimilated into a well liked transplant to the town.  Most often though you need to apply the old adage of “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me…”.  If you don’t take things in stride, nothing but suffering becomes of it.

Haunted by Whispers of its past and present

Small towns aren’t all gossip but I’m not going to lie, you may stumble across some whispers around town.  Sometimes, a sense of humor is the best way to deal with so-called scandals sifting around town. In one case, the news of my pending separation from my husband offered a touch of irony during a rough patch of my marriage.  The news of it happening actually got back to me before it officially happened.  LOL! There are other things found in small towns that make living there worth the occasional whisper. News travels fast in small towns but keep in mind that it is not necessarily accurate!

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