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In praise of small towns

December 29, 2012
By Dr. David Turner

The terrible events of Newtown, Conn., gives all of us pause. That life can be so fragile and cruelly discriminating is driven home by such an action. Particularly when children are involved, it makes you shake your head and ponder the injustice of it all.

But it also allows a reflection of your own and your own community's good fortune. Elkins, for the most part, is a peaceful and beautiful city. People are considerate and polite and crime is low. During this particularly trying year for this correspondent, I have experienced so many kindnesses that it dwarfs the imagination and gladdens the heart. Few places could exhibit such generosity of spirit. To all that have helped me along, I thank you with all the feelings I can muster.

Like Newtown, before the carnage, Elkins has been relatively free of violence and crime. Neighbors eagerly look out for their own. During the surprise storm in October,, people rallied and eagerly offered helping hands. So it was with the derecho in June. I remember local restaurants, particularly Mee Mee'z Cafe, making sure food was available at a generous price. Very little was heard in the way of complaint. People took the emergency stoically and in stride.

To endure is to adjust to life, realizing that not everything will remain tough. But every setback taken gracefully strengthens you and allows one to regard one's neighbors with generosity. Elkins, as a city, and Randolph County certainly pass the test when it come to taking reverses with grace. Indeed, it is a matter of satisfaction to call Elkins my home, as it has been for 27 years.

Elkins is a place of tolerance, generosity and kindness. From institutions great and small, from Davis & Elkins College to the Jabberwock - during my trials, I have heard concerns about my health and offers of food and company, and this is the tip of the spear. Certainly it is something to be proud of demonstrating that Elkins, because of its smallness, has its advantages.

Way too much is made of growth at the expense of community. Not every measurement of success and happiness is through an economic gauge. Places to shop do not replace a cozy environment. Growth in population do not necessarily signal good times. That Elkins remains free of gated communities is a sign of its civility. When pursuit of status replaces friendliness and concern is when Elkins' standard of living will truly be threatened.

But fortunately that time has not come. The race to satisfy the cultural pretensions of the few has not overwhelmed the generosity of the many. The relative lack of social coldness in Elkins is very much in evidence. Public schools and churches all bear witness to the egalitarian spirit of the community. Its uniqueness of style remains intact. Those who offer grandiose visions truly represent an original threat. Fortunately none is presently in evidence.

Happily, Elkins ends the year with a spirit that is welcoming. Certainly the warmth of friends, colleagues and neighbors have made a rough year a great deal smoother. And to all a happy New Year and sincere thanks.



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