Ed Smith
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I hope you read Downhome magazine. It isn't that Ron Young needs the money. Far as I know he's doing quite well.
One reason you should read Downhome is that it captures the very essence and flavour of our province and its people. Does so beautifully. Another equally important reason is that I write in it and have been doing so for the 20 years of its publishing life.
In case you're already getting bored with this, know that I'm about to tell you something extraordinary. If I were a swearing man (I admit to having my moments when sufficiently moved), I would swear that what I'm about to tell you is true. I know none of you would ever doubt me.
If you take Downhome, you may have already seen my column for this month, "Where the Heart Is." If you don't, for heaven's sake run out and buy it and then read the column, giving it the rapt attention you normally give to all my writing.
The column talks about Springdale, our home for the last 36 years. It tries to explain how we feel about this little town of a thousand people, with as much passion as I can put into the written word. Not that I'm a stranger to passion, you understand.
It talks about the network of friends and sense of community that overrides denominations and socioeconomic status. In short, it tries to indicate how much we love this place and how strongly we feel we belong. You must have the picture by now.
The lead time for the column and the date of Downhome publication is roughly a month and a half. At least that's what they tell me. Perhaps they're harder on me than anyone else. Anyway, the column to which I refer was written on Sept. 15. It's important to remember that date. You don't need to know why just yet.
About three weeks ago, a good friend dropped over and asked if we'd mind being the subjects of a neighbourhood potluck. They'd like to help us celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary, he said, and also my 20 years of writing in Downhome, and 25 years in other publications. It would be a nice little house party, he said.
Now we do this sort of thing periodically in our neighbourhood so nothing strange about that, except our being the recipients of it. But we told him, "sure, sounds like fun. We can have it in our house." He hemmed and hawed a little about that saying that 25 or 30 might be too many for one house, and he didn't want us (i.e. Other Half) to have to do any of the work.
That was thoughtful, we said, so where would we have it? Well, he was thinking that while it was a mite large for the purpose, they'd use Manual Hall, the town social centre. It was indeed large for such a small group, but who were we to ask questions? That would be like looking a gift horse in the mouth, or some other part of its anatomy.
Manual Hall is part of the stadium complex. As we approached the main door last Saturday we remarked on the number of cars parked along the street and surmised that the stadium winter program must already be in full swing. Then we saw the van with "Downhome" plastered on it and wondered what it was doing there.
We found out a few moments later when we entered the hall and found 141 people waiting for us, grinning like Cheshire cats. To say we were shocked is the same as saying January can be chilly. We couldn't quite take in the beautifully set tables, and the decorations overhead. OH and I were speechless, and even as we were ushered to a table with daughter and her family, we still weren't sure what it was all about.
It was about OH and me, and the "little party" was for us to celebrate our years here in Springdale. OH's 38 years in guiding were highlighted, and Daughter Number Two gave her the 35-year service pin. There was music and comedy, laughter and speeches. I'm sure every group I've ever been privileged to be a part of had sent messages.
The redoubtable Ron Young and his wife were there, as was the irrepressible Roger Simmons who had flown in from B.C. Brian Peckford sent greetings from B.C., and editors of papers and other organizations wrote messages. The mayor and the MHA spoke and old friends and colleagues did the same. Friends came from far and near to share the evening with us.
Here comes the unbelievable part. The people who planned and carried out this beautiful thing for us had no idea that I had written a column expressing how we felt about this town. And when I wrote the column I had no idea they were planning anything for us. The coincidence is nothing short of remarkable.
The main reason I tell you all this is so that when you read that November column in Downhome, you'll understand even more what kind of a place this is and what wonderful people live here. Some may remember that a few years ago Newfoundland and Labrador was found to be the top province in Canada in charitable givings. You may also recall that Springdale people were the highest givers in the province.
I hope you'll forgive me for going on and on about this. Two or three days ago a friend sent me a letter from another community saying that was how he felt about his home, and I'm sure there are others as well.
Someone has said that if you have one good friend you are among the most fortunate of people. I don't know what you call it when you have a whole community of good friends, but I will say this.
No one on Earth feels richer than we do.

Ed Smith lives in Springdale.
His e-mail address is

Organizations: Downhome magazine

Geographic location: Springdale, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

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