That’s the ticket! (#3: Melissa Arrighi)

Melissa Arrighi, who just coincidentally is Plymouth’s town manager, responded to my request to be one of the “365” in a way that I hope others take note of.

The 365,  in case you haven’t been following along or paying close attention, are the friends, family members, supporters and others that I will talk about on each day of my year-long walk.

These people represent, for me, community. These people are the reason that, after 60 years, I feel I am finally at home (both in Plymouth and philosophically). Because I feel I am part of a community (ironically known as ‘America’s Hometown’) I have the confidence to take this walk, to leave my home for a year, to talk about the importance of community, to reflect on values that are above politics and – to raise funds to help take care of people at the other end of the world – wherever they live – the homeless.

I have asked many people to be one of these 365 people and, while no one has turned me down, few have responded with the kind of personal detail and honesty that Melissa has.

There is no formula. I am not looking for anything specific. But I want the 365 people from Plymouth (and my life) that I take with me, and talk about as I traverse the country, to offer up an honest reflection about what homes mean to them. There are probably 350 million variations of that story in America today, but most of us are not given to expressing these kinds of thoughts out loud, to strangers.

Please, share those feelings with me – in whatever form, using whatever words or media that you are most comfortable with. Here’s Melissa’s contribution:

Your email got me thinking and it’s been fun.   I had my sister (also my best friend) send me this great picture of the home we grew up in (West Bridgewater).  My father built this house for us and we moved in when I was three years old.  My mother really wanted an A-frame and my father didn’t want that and knew it wouldn’t fit in in West B’water.   So my mother kept looking and found a picture in a magazine that had some houses from down south and she loved one and asked if he could build it.  He said “Yup”.  He made his own plans from the picture and built it all himself – it took him about a year to build it (part time because he was a full time contractor).   My mother would drive us over when we were little, every weekend, and we got to run around and see the progress.
About 3 months after we moved in, my mother was walking downtown in West B’water center and she saw a picture of our new house in front of a realtor’s display window.  She went in to ask about it, because certainly our new house wasn’t for sale.  Low and behold, she was very flattered cuz the realtor said they wanted to show pictures of unusual but beautiful houses in Town.

It was an awesome house to grow up in.

After we’d been there only six months, my mother got a phone call from The Enterprise newspaper from “The Cousin Mary Page”.  That used to be a women’s page that had recipes and things (as my mother describes it).  Once a month they liked to write up and show pictures of a home and they wanted to do 240 South Street (our house).  It was such a cool article and I’m featured in it also (maybe I’ll show you those pictures someday – my mother has the newspaper page framed on her wall).

We owned that house from when I was three years old until three years ago.   All our holidays were there – it was a wonderful and special place.  My sister and I had matching bedrooms across the grand 2nd floor hallway from each other.  Mine was pink and purple and hers was orange and yellow.  But other than the colors, everything was identical – right down to the curtains, linens, rug.    Adorable.  And stayed that way from when we moved in until when it was sold.   ‘Lynni’ and I would put string across the hallway railings and use a clothes pin and then pull notes back and forth to each other – like a clothes line.     At Christmas, my father would tiptoe in our bedrooms at 2 a.m. and put our stockings at the end of each of our beds.  I would always wake up first and run around the hallway and across to Lynni’s room to wake her up so I could compare our stocking contents.   I’d line everything us to make sure we had equal amounts of gifts!!

I couldn’t sleep last night and I got up and thought of your email.     I remembered that I have these 2 old recipe books that I’ve always saved that came from my mother.  And I don’t even cook so the fact that I saved them makes me laugh.  Look how old they are.  And she referred to them ALL the time.  We always had dinner together at 5:30 pm sharp.   No matter what my father was doing, or what job he was on, we always sat down as a family for supper.

And finally, there’s a picture of my Ighi Walter Arrighi who I had in my life for almost 19 years and no matter where he was, my Plymouth residence, my Fairhaven house, or in my office at Town Hall, would make that place home for me.

What a beautiful and honest expression of, at least one sense of, home. Frank