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Left Coast / Right Coast: Being parochial

Mike Gold living the dream in the Pacific Northwest. Photo credit: Nancy Gold.
Mike Gold living the dream in the Pacific Northwest. Photo credit: Nancy Gold.

By Mike Gold, A retired entrepreneur living the dream in the Pacific Northwest.

No, this column is not about the Catholic Church. It is about how we often seem to zero in on our local surroundings.

In my own case, being brought up in Brooklyn, New York, until I left there and wound up living in the greater Boston area, I would judge where I happened to be by what I was used to. By using that as a measure, one tends to measure the world based upon your own local customs and experiences.

For example, I regularly meet at a local senior living facility located in Mukilteo.  Listening to the residents, many of whom have lived in Mukilteo for a good portion of their lives, one clearly sees how they relate to the world based upon their own living experiences.

We were talking one day about the homeless. Their conversation immediately went to where and how many homeless had taken up residence (this is perhaps a stretch of the word – as they had no homes) in a number of public spaces in that town. When talking about where they had driven to visit a particular place, they related this experience to what is was like driving around their own area and those traffic conditions.

In my own case I learned to drive in and around New York City. When one does that you expect to get blasted by the horn in the car behind you if you hesitate even for a second when the light turns green. Sometimes, I have the same habit in driving around here. If I’m at a light and there is a line of cars in front of me waiting for the green, I will on occasion toot the cars in front of me. It is simply what one expects driving around New York. So I’m being parochial in behaving as I was brought up in that area.

Other local customs: In New Hampshire, where our family maintained a summer home on Lake Winnipesaukee, self-reliance is an embedded characteristic of many residents. So you don’t call upon your neighbor to assist you if you are buried in three feet of snow and can’t get out of your own home. Instead, you buy a snowplow or even a tractor with a snowplow and simply take care of your own situation.

Other parochial characteristics of living in greater Seattle (and/or Mill Creek):  I find, as an outsider watching the local customs in this area that we tend, also, to fend for ourselves. However, one difference is that no one hesitates to assist your friends with what are relatively time-consuming tasks. Example would be a home repair. I have seen many incidences where a friend/neighbor will spend hours helping the homeowner with some project. That would simply not happen in New England.  And no one around here thinks of it as an imposition. It is just a local custom.

Last view concerns religious practice: In Boston, a neighborhood known as “southie” is very Irish Catholic. If you’re not, you are always considered an outsider. Funny, their church attendance is not very high, other than a few top holidays (Midnight Mass Christmas eve is one). But the St. Patrick’s Day parade is world class. Every local politician would not miss walking in it. Around here I’ve found a very accepting attitude no matter what your religion happens to be. And I know so many more people who regularly attend Church. So here is one instance where being parochial has a religious connection.

Boston has another neighborhood which was depicted in the movie "The Town." The movie suggests that Charlestown produces a very high number of bank robbers. In fact, historically, more than an “average” number of these robbers have come from Charlestown.

But as far as I know, it is not part of the public school curriculum.

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