Those of you who have read my book, “Getting Down to Brass Tacks,” or the blog posts here about my childhood, know that I grew up in Newtown, CT, where the terrible shooting took place at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14.
I pray for the children, the teachers and the families of this tragedy, and that all those who survived will find peace again in this beautiful town. I hope and pray that Newtown will not carry a stigma forever because of this horrendous event.
My family moved to Newtown in 1947. It was a quiet, rural place then, and our house was set back from a dirt road and surrounded by woods and fields.
The Sandy Hook Elementary School didn’t exist in those days, and my sister and I went to the Hawley School until we later attended Newtown High School. I don’t remember why, but I did attend an old-fashioned school house in Sandy Hook for third grade.
Back in those days, Sandy Hook was considered the “poor” part of town. I haven’t been to Newtown in many years, so I can’t imagine what it’s like now, except that I’ve heard it’s much more upscale, with fancy restaurants and boutiques.
I have many wonderful memories of Newtown—the freedom of being able to wander alone in the woods, the feeling of safety everywhere. Sometimes my sister Bertie and I would walk all the way from our house to the center of town where the now-famous flagpole stood—a three-mile trek. I remember the soda fountain on Main Street right near that flagpole, and the two churches that faced each other—one Episcopal, the other Congregational, shown in the photo here. I remember riding in my mother’s old Plymouth down Castle Hill Road, seeing those churches in the distance, and always counting the seconds to when they would line up one behind the other, as we came down the hill. Funny the silly things you remember.
What I don’t remember was violence. Even a minor crime in Newtown was a rare event. It makes me realize just how much things have changed. But as awful as the crime was that took place in Newtown day before yesterday, along with all the other mass murders and increasing disturbances around the globe, I still pray and trust that some good will emerge—an increasing awareness of the need for change, for more brotherly love, and more concern for those who may be struggling with mental illness. Some say that love saves the day. The Bible says, “God is Love.” I believe that our expression of that universal Love truly will save the day.