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Mayberry untouched

by David High

I was just sitting outside with my laptop, sipping my morning cup of steaming hot energy and trying to figure out what irritating part of modern day life I was going to complain about in my next column.

A few minutes later a couple of neighbors strolled by and one muttered gripe, gripe, gripe.

Pardon me?

“You’re always complaining in that column,” one replied.

So? The world needs someone to try and right the ship. Besides, when I do occasionally complain, it’s because I’m quite good at it.

“Complaining is all you do,” the other neighbor said.

Now wait just a minute. I think I recently said a few words of praise for the American banking system. I commended them for providing me with a free donut on Customer Appreciation Day.

The pair walked off, unconvinced.

There are many wonderful qualities about our country that deserve praise: the First Amendment, free refills and Stick-um Notes are just three that quickly come to mind. None, however, is more outstanding than the kindness and friendliness of the residents of small town America. People in the town of La Veta are a perfect example.

After living here for a few years, I told an old friend that I thought the perfect description for the town and the area should be Apple Valley. Not because there is an over-abundance of the fruit, but because there is unquestionably an abundance of friendly people living here.

When my better half and I moved to this little town in southeastern Colorado, people welcomed us in a manner that made it appear that their total happiness up to that point was unfulfilled because of our absence. Not one of them said, “So you’re the people who paid a fortune for the Franklin place,” which we thought might be the traditional greeting in Huerfano County.

Neighbors who learned that we had to go out to eat on our first night in town protested that it was not something they were going to let happen and brought us casseroles, a cake and even a bottle of wine.

It was an eye-opening experience, and it remains so to this day.

When word got around that our furniture was in a shipping container making its way to some place like the Galapagos Islands, a steady stream of townspeople began coming up the walk with chairs, a lamp, a table and even a microwave oven.

Perhaps the most singular thing is that there is very little crime. By this I mean that trust was – and still is – the prevalent thing, not rampant fear. People will leave an expensive bicycle propped against a tree and go off to do their grocery shopping.

I’m sure that if some stranger in town were to steal that bike, the owner would run after the thief shouting, “Could you please return it to 142 West Ryus Avenue when you’ve finished with it? And watch out for second gear – it sticks.”

No one locks anything. I remember being astonished by this on my initial visit when a realtor took us out to look at houses. He kept leaving his car unlocked, with a laptop computer and shopping bags in the back, even when we went into a restaurant for dinner.

I have grown used to this now, but when we were still new in town and I expressed wonder about it all to a woman brought up in Chicago who has lived here for 25 years, she put her hand on my shoulder and said, as if giving up a most treasured insight, “Honey, you’re not in the real world any longer. You’re in Apple Valley.”

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