I am a self-proclaimed city girl. I grew up outside of Pittsburgh, and have spent time living in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. I love cities. When I started working in Hanover, I scoffed. I met a lot of people who had lived here their entire lives. In my mind, these people never got to experience the world. They all thought this area was the best because they hadn’t experienced anything else.
I made fun of the so-called “small town charm” and have been imagining and pining for the day when I get to return to Washington, D.C., which is where my heart calls home.
After this weekend, I am a little more okay with waiting for that day to come.
I spent the weekend hearing people talk about a town they LOVE. Over the course of the weekend where residents celebrated the 250th anniversary of the town, I spent at least 10 hours listening to people talk about McSherrystown.
I learned that a lot of people did leave for a short while, but came back. Many served in the armed forces or got jobs elsewhere, but they returned to McSherrystown.
Someone said Friday that in McSherrystown, everyone has a nickname and everyone comes back. Now I see why everyone comes back. Because, after spending many hours over the course of two days with McSherrystown residents, I feel like part of the family.
I sat in the senior center on Saturday and heard the stories of several old timers. One woman said she didn’t grow up here, but has spent the last 30 years of her life in McSherrystown. It’s home. She and her husband don’t have any children, but she said the town makes up for that. She put her hand on my back, just like my grandmother does, as to say that I’m part of what that town is to her.
I would walk into an event and people seemed to know me, but I had never met them. They’d say “Oh there’s our reporter!” and smile. People I never met knew my name and welcomed me with open arms.
I wasn’t feeling well Friday night at the anniversary banquet. A greeter asked me how I was feeling the next day. After being on my feet or outside for a long time, I was offered more drinks than I can count. I mingled in the back yard of a local family and joked with a family member visiting from out of state. I saw a committee member when I went to church this morning and instead of feeling freaked out by this small town family, I felt like I was welcomed into a home.
And this area will remain home for a while. Although I go to bed each night in York, my family is in Pittsburgh and I pine for Washington, D.C., this is a place where I feel welcome. Thank you for that welcome.
Stories from this weekend: