Friday, March 03, 2006



by Richard E. Noble

My hometown, like every hometown, I guess, has a history. The history of Lawrence, Massachusetts involves the industrial revolution. Lawrence was a mill town and, in part, still is today. For my early life and long before I was born, they manufactured textiles there. Lawrence is the story of woman working, and their battle for rights. Lawrence is the story of unions, and labor riots. Lawrence is the story of boom and bust. Lawrence is not an example of middle America; Lawrence is America.
Lawrence is Emma Lazarus’s words inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty, in their raw, plain reality. In Lawrence, growing up, I met the whole north, south, east, and west of Europe. In Lawrence, I met every language and every ethnic, but only one ethic - hard work.
I am glad that I had the opportunity to grow up in Lawrence. Lawrence is unlike any other place in America that I have ever been, and I’ve been almost everywhere in this United States. In Lawrence, without even realizing it, I learned to take pride in work and not look at it as a curse of a lower class. In Lawrence I absorbed, color, race, nationality, ethnic background, and difference, as the skin absorbs vitamin D from sunshine. I have friends whose names end in vowels and consonants.
I must be honest, I really didn’t think much of good, old Lawrence while I was there, but now that I have seen a bunch of elsewhere, I realize what a place it was. It is like none other, and a very large part of what I am, I inherited from Lawrence - My Home Town!

My Home Town

My hometown, as I remember, was poor and broke.
The streets were a patchwork of potholes and tar,
Three tenement houses, and out front ... an old car.
My hometown, as I remember, and it fills me with pride,
Was filled with calloused hands, and blue collared shirts,
Not soft palms waiting to be greased, and phony smiles wearing suits and ties.
My hometown was telephone poles, see-saws and swings.
My hometown was streets full of kids, and be home before dark.
My hometown, as I remember, was bowling alleys and draft beer.
My hometown, it was cheep and it was poor.
My hometown, it was old ... it was weary ... it was sore.
My hometown, it was crusty rye bread and oleo.
My hometown was salt pork, potatoes, and stew.
My hometown, as I remember, wasn’t very sweet.
It wasn’t indoor cats and walks for dogs.
It wasn’t a piece of cake.

My hometown though, as I remember, wasn’t all that bad.
My hometown though, as I remember, wasn’t all that sad.
My hometown was a bit of a joke, and a good deal of smoke,
But never a pig in a poke.
It was true workingman blue,
And they’ll spit in your eye if you say that’s a lie.
My hometown, as I remember, wasn’t shiny fenders on antique cars.
It was more brass rails and poorly lit bars.
Actually, my home town, as I remember, it was kind of nice.
It was somewhat friendly and sort of warm,
But, I think it’s gone;
That is, my hometown,
… as I remember.

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