Did you ever see the movie? Or read the book? The Stepford Wives, I mean. It was really spooky about a town (strangely enough called Stepford) where the wives were all possessed. As a result they were all friendly, submissive, dutiful. You know what I mean. All that foolishness that men who fell off the turnip truck expected from their wives when they married. Well, much to our surprise, I think we spent a day in a Stepford-like town. Not submissive and dutiful, but oh so friendly.
It was Truro.
Yes, Truro. Myself and two friends like adventure days. Days where we pick a spot and go check it out. I had often seen Facebook posts from Philips and Chestnut - Onslow Historic Lumber in Truro and wanted to see what it was all about.. And friend Wanda wanted to visit Victoria Park in central Truro. And Susan wanted a day trip. So off we went.
As we drove into the town and around in a few circles, I admitted I had no idea where the lumber place was located. Well actually I knew where it was located on the map; it was just questionable as to where we were in comparison to the map. I think the map was broken. 'Well', says I "first person we see, we'll stop and get directions" and no sooner were the words said, than a smiling Truro resident appeared on his porch. Such a nice, friendly fella. He was 87 (we all agreed later he could've passed for late 60s), had lived in his same house since 1967 and was main caregiver to his wife who had dementia. He asked if we knew Emily and Alex Boyd in Amherst (both now deceased) and I did. His wife and Emily had gone to school together and he had known them both. Walt Disney was right. It is a small world after all. So after a ten minute chat which included directions, off we went commenting on what a friendly, helpful guy he was.
Although we were pointed in the direction of the lumber place, we were waylaid when we saw an antique store. So we went it where we encountered another Truro/ Stepfordian in the friendly owner, staff and other customers in the store. We asked if there were good places to eat and not only were suggestions given but also lunch ideas were offered. She thanked us for our purchases as we left.
Then on to the lumber store where we were again welcomed and assisted by its owner. And again we are thanked for our purchases and receive a couple more good dining spots. With menu options. The same happened in various clothing stores we entered. Stores, which, I might add, were all busy with shopping activity.
And now things get really weird. We decided to walk to one of the eateries. That's when, collectively, we realize we're continually being smiled at, spoken to, helped out as we make our way to the down town area. But when some coffee drinkers called out to us from over a fence making comments about walking on such a great day, we knew we had been transported to another universe. What was going on here?
We found our restaurant and sat outside on the patio. A man walked by with his dog, looked up at us and with a big smile said 'lovely day, isn't? 'Well, that's it!', I exclaim to Wanda and Susan 'where are we? Stepford?!'. Then the friendly waitress came out to take our order.
The entire day was like that. People chatted, smiled, thanked us for coming into their business. It was weird! It was strange! It was.....wonderful!
We talked on our drive back to Amherst. We had all been to Truro previously but none recalled the welcome being anything as it had been this visit. Which could only mean one thing. The attitude of townspeople seemed to have changed. I don't know if there was an official drive to improve service or if a different caliber of store owner/worker had suddenly infiltrated the town as in Stepford. But whatever it was, Amherst could learn from it. Every person walking down an Amherst street should put a grin on their face and say hello to whomever they meet. The Maritimes are known for their friendliness but let's take it up a notch and actually put a name on it..... let's make tourists think they've been transported to another universe. Amherst is our universe.. Let's make it theirs too.
Sheila Graham is a member of the Amherst News Community Editorial Panel.