MILL TOWN – TRISH FINLAY'S STORY

Trish Finlay photo.jpeg

"I liked passing through Maynard.
It was, to me, like a city with it’s buildings and fancy clock. Even as a kid, I saw Maynard as a place where it didn’t matter if your parent’s car was held together with duct tape or if they drove a brand new station wagon. Maynard seemed to say, 'Everyone’s welcome.' "

Almost There and Almost Home

by Trish Finlay

We piled into the car almost every holiday to make the long trek to my Aunt and Uncle’s in Lexington from Marlborough where we grew up. Roughly forty five minutes in real time but over forty five hours in kid time. No seat belts, just bony elbows and scrawny, knobby, bandaid covered legs climbing over one another fighting for the best seat in the Chevy Impala.

 

Dad drove and mom perpetually slammed on her imaginary brakes from the passenger seat. “Wally watch out!” She’d yell while her leg and foot extended to a pedal that wasn’t there. We fought, laughed, and sang a hundred bottles of beer on the wall (to mom’s dismay). Dad tried to keep us busy as we all tried to seek out the alphabet letters on the license plates of the cars with faraway license plates, some all the way from New Hampshire! One of us screaming, “There’s a Q, I see a Q !” We got to know the landscape, the local geography. Our car glided down winding country roads, passing farms, and orchards.

“Are we there yet?” we’d all chime in unison. I could see Dad look in the rearview mirror with a look that said no, but his words, said, “Just about.”

 

Once we passed Erikson’s I knew we were almost there, or almost home. If the season allowed and if we all stopped fighting, fidgeting, and fussing, we’d hold our breath in silence each of us looking at one another with the quiet hope that maybe, just maybe, Dad would stop. We didn’t have much growing up, but we didn’t know it. Money was crinkly green stuff that Mrs. Roche cupped into my hand every Friday when I’d collect for my weekly paper route. Everyone else on my route gave me quarters but Mrs. Roche gave me a dollar. I knew we didn’t have much of that crinkly green stuff because my parents always said, “We’re not made of money.” or, “Money doesn’t grow on trees you know.” But they always seemed to find enough money for a cone for all of us on special occasions.

 

Maynard was the marker of time and whereabouts. The big clock was the other clue that we were either close to there, or close to home. I liked passing through Maynard. It was, to me, like a city with it’s buildings and fancy clock. Even as a kid, I saw Maynard as a place where it didn’t matter if your parent’s car was held together with duct tape or if they drove a brand new station wagon. Maynard seemed to say, “Everyone’s welcome.

 

The downtown looked like it was from one of those old movies mom would watch on our TV where men tipped their hat at the ladies walking by. It looked to me like a hat tipping kind of town.

 

The river that ran through the town, that I was barely able to see from worst seat in the Chevy, always made me feel like I was looking at long ago. I’d crane my neck to catch even a glimpse if I could. The surrounding towns on either side of Maynard had their own appeal. Concord was best at Christmastime where I kept my eye out for Ebenezer Scrooge because I wasn’t quite sure where he was from but Concord looked about right. In the fall Stow was the star winner, with it’s rows and rows of apple trees loaded up with shiny apples and all the vivid color everywhere you could see out the backseat window. Maynard remained the reliable middle. The mini-city like town. We never traveled to Maynard. It wasn’t our destination except an occasional pull-in at Erikson’s. It became the town of curiosity for me. Because I had a strong imagination as a child, I could easily imagine myself in a canoe on the river rowing to another land. Maybe a land where money did grow on trees and I could pick it and bring it back to my parents. Or maybe one day I’d climb the tall clock tower just like Quasimodo did in Notre Dame, and I could change the time like on my mom’s Timex. I’d have view of the whole town up there. ”

We’d pass through the little town quickly- a few of us dozing off from the lengthy car ride. I remember feeling safe in the car with my family and that comforting feeling of  being almost there and almost home.