The way out here

Small world

Posted 8/1/23

I’ve always prided myself on not burning bridges, no matter how I felt about a relationship or association.

You never know who might be related to whom and how the story of your parting …

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The way out here

Small world


I’ve always prided myself on not burning bridges, no matter how I felt about a relationship or association.

You never know who might be related to whom and how the story of your parting ways might be shared down the line. Reputation is a part of it, but ultimately it’s the idea that we think there’s this big world out there—and it really isn’t as big as we think.

That’s what I told the gentleman I had the pleasure of speaking with this past weekend at our farmstand as berry pickers came and went. Since I didn’t ask his permission to mention him in this article I will withhold his name, but thought our conversation was worth sharing with others.

We talked about blueberries and farms, and old families that have come and gone in the county. But most of all we talked about how very intertwined we all are, sometimes more than we know.

As we talked it came to light that he and his father owned a hunting club not one mile from my family’s old farm, where my grandmother grew up and raised racehorses. Currently he is good friends with my grandfather on the other side of my family tree.

If that wasn’t enough, he was able to think back to his childhood and recall his old neighbors—who seem to have been ancestors of my wife’s family. It’s amazing how many connections you can find with a single person.

As he chuckled at the coincidence, he looked me straight in the eye and told me the following story just to reiterate how small a world we really live in.

When he was in college he attended a special campus for forestry majors, where he gained his education for a career in milling, logging and related warehouse operations. At the time he attended, there were only another 150 students on campus.

Upon graduating, he departed for Oregon, where he worked in a logging camp and shared a ride with a fellow Pennsylvanian to and from the operation. As his term of employment came to an end, he packed up with his friend in their old ’56 Chevy and set out on the road to return to PA.

Before their trip was really underway, they stopped at the gas station to fill up. When they did, the attendant came out and began to pump their gas. He stepped to the rear of the vehicle, then the front and began cleaning the windshield. As he did so, he asked the driver if he was from PA, having likely seen the plates on the car. He replied that he was, and as the attendant made his way over to the passenger side, he asked my friend if he was also from PA. When he responded yes, the attendant quickly asked, “Whereabouts?”

“Well, in the Scranton area in Northeast PA,” was the reply.

“Oh, I know Scranton,” said the attendant.

“Well it’s not really Scranton, it’s more like Honesdale,” replied my friend. “Oh, I know Honesdale,” replied the attendant.

After some back and forth narrowing down the exact location, it turned out that not only was this fellow at the gas station one of the folks he went to forestry school with, but he was also very nearly his neighbor growing up. They lived less than a mile from one another and they shared a few friends through their relations.

All the way out on the West Coast, in a random place, he found someone connecting him to home. It got me thinking: the way out here isn’t just here; it’s everywhere. Not just the way we live in the rural corners of every state in the nation, but the people we know who live the same way, spreading themselves as far as can be traveled—even outside this great country. It was a pleasure to sit and talk with this gentleman—not only for the company, but for the value in the history he shared.



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