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You’re Not From Around Here

I have always been envious of people who take the floor at town meeting, announce that they are a native, and flash their birth certificate as if it were currency. In a strange way it is.

It might be that being born in a Massachusets town and being a lifelong resident does make one special, like a Quaker or a saint.  And, if you can trace your roots back 13 generations to one of the original proprietors– that is your Ace-in-the-hole.

Don’t ever start an argument with a Mayflower descendant, especially one who lives in Plymouth. They seem to have amnesia about their ancestors stealing corn from the Wampanoag in Truro.

I will concede that being a native might make one a bit wiser for knowing where all the bodies are buried, for instance, what finance committee member was not asked to the prom by a selectman in 1972, but does it negate the enthusiasm and energy of someone who chose that town as his home?

Yes.

I just missed being born on a small island to the east of Martha’s Vineyard, when my mother took a trip off-island ­– in the middle of July no less ­– to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where I was born.

Being born in Poughkeepsie does not have much cache on the Island or any other town in Massachusetts.

Sadly, I doubt it matters much to the residents of Poughkeepsie that I heartily hail from there. 

I console myself that I did marry a man born in the Commonwealth and that our daughters were born on the South Shore.

Yet, I’ve lived  in several Massachusetts towns,  voting at nearly every town meeting during my adult life and yet I could never take the floor and sway the room to vote along with me because the strength of my argument was buried in the fact that I was a native.  

That is the power of birth place in Massachusetts.

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