A community stronger than time and distance

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

There used to be a sign inside a shop downtown that read “A small town is like a big family.” Underneath were the words “Greencastle, Pennsylvania.” At no time is that motto truer about the Greencastle-Antrim community than during the Old Home Week celebrations that come around every three years.

Old Home Week always feels like a big happy family get-together, the kind you always wanted, with the sort of family everyone wants, one without weird uncles or scheming in-laws.

Old Home Week celebrates all the things that good families everywhere celebrate: an honorable past, the present filled with the small choices and pleasures that enrich us every day, and a future rooted in the strength and character being built today.

It's the gentle humor of the OHW pageant retelling history as it must have been, much like a loving family recounts stories about its members as children, building family legends in the process. It's the awareness that this time will someday be the subject of future OHW pageants — that in another 25 years or so Dody and Sharon will be making us laugh about today's township foibles or board meeting shenanigans.

It's the majestic harmony of the cantata, where community members join in melodies that provide the background music to everyday life in this time and place.

It's the tours that take us back to the places this community reveres: where real people suffered, rejoiced, learned, battled, were born, lived, married, and died, and in all those things shaped our lives. It's teaching children about Enoch Brown, Corporal Rihl, Phillip Baer, Molly Pitcher. It’s a way to reintroduce us to history in our fast-paced world of today by taking us to Sandy Hollow, where men picnicked during the first Old Boys’ Reunion and boys later used as a swimming hole that they called Etter’s Meadow.

It's the round of open houses, meals, concerts and dances that call us all to forget the daily routine and come celebrate, dance, sing, connect. It's eating at sidewalk cafes sponsored by local businesses, neighbors barbecuing on the back porch, and buying lemonade from the Boy Scouts. It's swaying under the stars at a concert on the Square. It's sketching the loveliest sidewalk chalk drawing outside Besore library, until it rains. It's listening to an oompah band at the Jerome King bandshell.

It's the displays and contests that invite us to share for the pleasure of others the things that bring us joy, the things we spend our days nurturing: good dogs, garden flowers, antiques, artwork, running ability, quilts, vintage cars, cycles shaped from wind and steel.

It's a museum display showcasing an extensive collection of books lovingly donated by Isabel Barnes or one that celebrates a noted African-American family that was involved in the Underground Railroad. It’s definitely about history and history that helped to shape people into the backbone of their community today. It’s a group of people who fondly remember their younger days when Fred Kaley taught them something that is no longer a part of public education in the present day.

It's a parade and fireworks that bring us to our feet, cheering madly, just glad to be able to see. It's a community family photo on the square, taken in 360 degrees, rerouting traffic and coaxing small boys to be still, until it’s time to run to the other side of the square with hopes of appearing twice on the finished photo.

It's a hundred meetings of friends — some planned, some not, all reminding us that the web that binds us — which we call community — is stronger than time and distance, and that it brings us, like a family, together again, here.