He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother (Rhode Island, Pt 6)

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows where

This might be the longest entry of these trip recaps, and with good reason.  So the standard instructions (read the entry if you want, otherwise just scroll through for the pictures) once again applies.

First, I have to admit that I was remiss on my last entry.  I left out a very important item that I thought occurred on Friday (today’s entry), but actually happened on Thursday. (My photos pretty much keep everything in sequential order for me, but I screwed this one up.)  Because that was the day that Bob, Glenn, and myself went back to the cemetery to make sure mom’s memorial was in its proper place.

It was.

The three of us had a quiet moment together, each of us reflecting in our own way as we stood around the plaque in silence.  Not a word was spoken.  I had more tears at this time than I did on Tuesday, and I’m not sure why.  I guess it was the final closure, or perhaps the fact that I was about to be 1800 miles away from visiting her again played a part in the uptick in emotion.

With the innate timing that only brothers have, we all turned to leave at about the same time without saying a word.  Glenn hung an arm around my shoulders and gave me a strong hug before we walked back to the car.

So with that little bit of clean up done, on to Friday…

This was the one day we had the most minimal of plans.  The only thing on the agenda was to go to the University of Rhode Island (dad’s alma mater) to shop the bookstore for more swag.  My sister and her husband were still around, but they were doing their own thing today so it was up to the three of us – the three youngest kids – to make the most of our last full day together in Rhode Island.

I call this Brother Day.

First stop, though, was at a post office so I could buy some stamps and mail all of the postcards I had prepared for Jen. (Five so far, with one more waiting for today’s adventures. That last one would be mailed from Texas.)

In planning out our day, which so far only consisted of a planned stop at URI, Glenn had a post office picked out to stop at.  It is in Slocum (which, according to Wikipedia is “largely open fields and farms”), and this is a town that we have strong family ties to because it is where my mom grew up.

Slocum probably consists of more than Indian Hill Road, but I doubt it.  That street is all I know of the village (its technical designation) because my grandpa’s house (thus my mom’s childhood house) and the post office were both located on that road.  And both the house and the post office have great meaning to me.  The family house should be obvious, but the post office?

My mom’s mother died when my mom was 16 years old.  So none of us kids knew her – obviously – but we did know that she was the postmaster of the Slocum Post Office at one time. It may not sound like much, being the postmaster of a village, but it was always sort of magical to me.

I walked into the post office (a converted house) and was greeted pleasantly by a woman behind the counter to my right.  I asked if she had postcard stamps available, and she said she did.  As she was fetching the stamps, I said “You know, my mom’s mom used to be postmaster here.”

I don’t know what kind of reply I was expecting to my “can I tell who who I am?” remark, but she said “Really?  What was her name?”

“Hutchins, but this was probably in the 1940s”, I replied, expecting an “oh” as a response (or, even worse, a “meh”).  Instead, she said “I know that name.  Hold on a second.”

She left the counter and soon returned with a large frame containing a document. She then told me that the lobby (where I was standing) had recently been remodeled and repainted, and while that was being done, everything was taken off the walls.  And unfortunately they had not gotten around to hanging everything back up.  Including the item that I now held in my hands.  A list of all the postmasters of this tiny little post office.

As it turns out, I had the dates all wrong.  But my mom’s mom had her name in the frame for being postmaster from 1950-1956.  And also acting postmaster in 1949. The woman asked if I wanted to take the frame somewhere to take a picture of it, and I took her up on the offer by hauling it to a table in the corner of the lobby.  But the photo came out crappy.  (I’m going to add it here anyway, along with an exterior shot of the post office.)

I couldn’t wait to get back to the car to tell Bob and Glenn this story, and was disappointed that they weren’t there with me for the conversation.

Also, none of this would have ever happened if I hadn’t told Jen that I’d send her postcards from the trip.  The ultimate bonus was when I thought that the postcards, upon their arrival in Austin, might have a “Slocum, RI” postmark on them.  (Spoiler: They didn’t.  Three were marked Providence and two were basically nude.) As it was, this Nowhere Man just felt more confusion.

But this entire post office stop was quite possibly the highlight of my trip.

The URI campus was only about 10 minutes away, so we were there in about 15 or 20 minutes.  (If for some strange reason you decided to wait until part 6 to start reading about this trip, then you deserve not understanding that joke.) After some indecision, thanks to the earlier advice from aunt Donna, we we able to find a place to park near the campus bookstore.

In the parking lot where we ended up was a car that very closely resembled my first vehicle – a 1976 Chevy Monte Carlo.  I’m pretty much a car idiot, but even if the year was not a match with my car, the color of this Chevy looked exactly like mine (which I bought from my oldest brother’s wife by paying her $100 per month for 12 months).

And guess who we ran into at the book store?  None other than my sister and her husband.  Good thing, too – because Jerry gave me directions to the nearest bathroom as my bladder was about to explode.  As we all walked toward our cars, we also realized it was time to say goodbye.  My sis and her husband had other plans for the day (a trip to L.L. Bean and also trying to avoid any and all family – LOL) and we brothers remaining had plans to… well…

Anyway, maybe we will do better about getting together as siblings without mom to organize things.  In fact, I kind of feel like we already have gotten better about that, even if that opinion is most likely greatly influenced by our shared trip to Rhode Island.  It’s a start, right?

Baby steps.

And now I’m kind of emotionally drained.  I’ll have to continue this story tomorrow night.

In the meantime, enjoy the Godfather eating lobster.


And the load
Doesn’t weigh me down at all
He ain’t heavy he’s my brother
He’s my brother
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
– The Hollies, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”




2 thoughts on “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother (Rhode Island, Pt 6)

  1. Bought your car from your oldest brother’s wife….

    Can I remember that car? The era is right, and it fits your Johnness. What do we remember? What is this haze that pursues us?

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