It’s OK to be friendly in Littletown | TheUnion.com
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It’s OK to be friendly in Littletown

Vivian Herron, Columnist
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Something weird happened not too long ago. Kinda spooky. I was feeding my Dodge Recall at the gas station when a woman pulled in behind me. She killed the engine, then spent a few seconds looking in her side and rearview mirrors. She got out of the car, spun around and instantly locked it, then hooked the key ring over her middle finger and cupped the keys in the palm of her hand.

She unlocked the gas cap, key ring still on her middle finger, and began pumping gas, as alert as a mama deer with two babies on the first day of hunting season.

When the tank was full, she screwed on and locked the gas cap, unlocked the passenger door, whipped out her handbag and relocked the door in a flash, and went into the store to pay the bill, still looking around.



By this time I had the whim-whams on top of the heebie-jeebies. My neighbor on the other side of the pumps was watching her, too. “Must be from one of the cities,” he observed. He looked grim.

Maybe 10 minutes later, I was in the supermarket when checker Becky Van Norman said something about county newcomers. “My husband, Brian, and I were driving home up on Quaker Hill, and we passed one of our neighbors just down the street from our house. Brian waved to him and my gosh, the man glared at us as though we were going to do something bad to him! So many people can’t wait to move to Nevada County because it’s just like a small town, but they’re positively paranoid if you try to act like a neighbor!”




I asked some Washington locals what advice they had for newcomers – not just to Littletown, but Nevada County in general. I’ll quote them as close as I can, and it does get repetitive, dear ones.

Col. Doug Cole: “Slow down. Take some time to smell the air. It’s OK to wave at people drivin’ by, you don’t have to know ’em, and they’ll mos’ likely wave back atcha. That’s jist good manners.”

Oh-Jist-Cawl-Me-Donn: “Moving up here is like stepping back in time. Being friendly is still in style, believe it or not, but I guess not so much anymore in the larger towns and cities. Too bad.”

Gypsy John Bryant: “Slow. Down. You know, the concept of road rage around here is when a gray squirrel attacks your truck tire. That’s as far as it every goes.”

Dale Wilson: “Did somebody already say ‘slow down’? Do it! Take a deep breath. Now take another one. Take it easy.”

I liked Mervelous Merv’s advice, too. He had come over to discuss some fire department stuff, and I asked him what he would recommend to people just moving to Bigtown.

His eyes crinkled and he smiled sweetly. “Easiest thing in the world. Turn off your damned computer, get your ass up off the chair in front of it, and get outside and meet your neighbors. Just go up and down your street or road or whatever and knock on doors and meet ’em, shake their hand, introduce yourself.”

(Note to readers: your esteemed editor may have altered some of Merv’s language. Be assured it was most succinct in its original form.)

You know all the people who live in your general area, don’t you? Hey, don’t try to molasses-mouth me about this. Get yourself a plate of cookies and get on out there and meet just one of our neighbors today … and another one tomorrow. That’s how things are done in Nevada County.

Vivian Herron is a longtime resident of the town of Washington whose column appears on Saturdays. You can write her in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945.


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