My Corner, Your Corner: Putting ‘family’ back into communities

My Corner, - Your Corner - Tony Callaio
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I covered the first Exeter Block Party that took place last weekend. It was a very nice event and kudos to the committee, council, volunteers and, of course, Mayor Denise Adams.

With only six months under her belt as borough mayor, Denise has some ideas up her sleeve as to what type of mayor she wants to be. By the looks of it, she wants to be a hands-on mayor who will get the town back to its roots with the feeling of family.

My mother grew up as a Fanti in Exeter and was always proud of that — so much so that she said she eventually wanted to move back to Exeter.

Years after my dad passed away and, after 24 years living at the Anthracite Apartments on Main Street in Pittston, she felt she need a change of scenery, so I suggested moving to the apartments for senior living on Schooley Avenue in Exeter.

After a visit to the facility and the idea of moving back to Exeter, my mom loved it and was ready to go. She enjoyed two years there until her health got the best of her and she was forced to move to an assisted living facility in Wyoming.

A lot of my mom’s family still resides in Exeter so Mayor Adams trying to achieve a feeling of Exeter being a family makes sense to me.

Fifty years ago and beyond, Exeter Borough consisted of all extended families. It seemed everyone was related to each other in some way. There was always a strong family presence in the borough.

Just as in the early to mid 1900s, there was a great influx of immigrants to northeast Pennsylvania, Exeter was a community experiencing just that. Exeter was becoming a melting pot of Italians, Poles and Lithuanians.

Today, communities are once again becoming diverse, making the melting pot even wider with so many different cultures.

Mayor Adams wants to not only make younger residents aware of Exeter’s roots, she wants the influx of new residents to know those roots, as well.

In her first month of service to the borough, she started a Resident of the Month, a program that has been very well received because there are a lot of deserving residents in town who should be recognized for being stellar citizens.

The Exeter Block Party was conceived from the idea of honoring the Cino Paci Band that formed 95 years ago in the borough.

The Paci Band has been entertaining at parades, religious events, social events and everything in between for nearly 10 decades and is steeply entrenched in Italian roots. It’s amazing how the tradition continues with bandmates being Italian and non.

The other fact hard to believe is that there have only been four band directors: Cino Paci, Ross Tarentino, Joey “I” Infantino and now his son Charles.

Is Denise Adams on the right track in unifying Exeter? Yes, she is.

Obviously, many Exeter residents agree by creating an Exeter Events Committee that will hopefully create new events and maybe bring back some old ones, too.

I often speak about the events of my childhood such as pie and ice cream socials, organization picnics, a town carnival and so on. All those events brought the community out and, in many cases, working together.

There was nothing better than going to a town social function where you met up with old friends, cross-town acquaintances and even family members. That’s why I miss having the West Pittston Community Pool; it was such a great gathering place for town members.

More and more families are moving to your town and even right next door. Sometimes, it takes months, if not years, to get to know them.

That family feeling we may have experienced years ago is pretty much extinct.

Years and years ago, “welcome wagons” were commonplace. A welcoming committee would show up at your house bearing gifts, even if it were a simple bouquet of flowers.

Perhaps Mayor Adams and other area towns can reinstitute a welcoming committee. It’s a great icebreaker not only for the new family but also neighbors getting to meet new faces.

Pie and ice cream social, why not? It might take a while for it to catch on again, but it would be fun.

Even though communities are more diverse than ever, we have to find a common bond somehow.

Social media is one way you can unify and inform a community and, in fact, many towns and town officials have turned to Facebook to get information to the public.

Is Denise Adams trying to reinvent the wheel? No, she isn’t. She’s just trying to make sure the wheels stay on the track.

I like what she’s doing and hope other towns follow suit to get their residents out and together.

Maybe what was old just might be new again.

Quote of the week

“All good music resembles something. Good music stirs by its mysterious to the objects and feelings which motivated it.” – Jean Cocteau, French novelist

Thought of the week

“Without promotion, something terrible happens… Nothing!” – P.T. Barnum, American circus owner/promoter

Bumper sticker

“Be smart, but never show it.” – Louis B. Mayer, American film producer

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My Corner,

Your Corner

Tony Callaio