Chivalry is not dead in Wyoming.
No, not western Wyoming with cowboys and rodeos and Lincoln Chafee.
I’m talking about the one who is here in our area. Yes, you western homebodies who never venture north of Exit 1, there is a Wyoming in Rhode Island. It’s a small village mostly within the city of Richmond (a bit spills into Hopkinton), has its own post office and zip code, even manages to have two Chinese restaurants within walking distance of each other (you can actually get your spring rolls in one place, dash across the mall, get your lo mein in the other, and they’d both still be hot when you get home). Wyoming has a small population of just 270 people, but has 122 registered businesses! Everything from beer making supplies to barbershop, karate, physical therapy, insurance, truck vibrator making and a very popular ice cream stand. The village, divided by the Wood River, was originally called Brand’s Ironworks after the local foundry. It stretched from Brand’s on the Hopkinton side to a cotton mill on the Richmond side. Finally, the Indians baptized it “Wyoming”, which means “meeting of the plains”. These native peoples would be amazed that the “plains” is now the merging of the old exits 3A and 3B into one large exit 3 flanked by nearby gas stations, a supermarket, a dollar store, pizzerias and even from a Job Lot.
One of the most popular places that buzzes constantly throughout the day and night, but really comes alive every morning, is a popular place for coffee, gas, snacks for the little one -lunch, cigarettes, lottery tickets, etc. morning to 9:30 a.m., and you’ll find a plethora of trucks: plumbing, drywall, remodelers, roofers, HVAC, state highway workers, medical supplies, tree service, they’re all there and they’re all there every day . If you have a problem and need a plumber, a roofer, a tree builder or a renovator, you will find them there. Just knock on any truck, you won’t need a recommendation!
It’s not just the 99 cent coffee that appeals to me, it’s the consistent quality of that coffee, it’s the constant smiles that greet you, the “have a nice day” coming from behind the counter and the fellowship unofficial “guys” and “girls” who nod their heads in recognition even though they don’t know your name. It is this familiarity that people rely on to start their mornings. While some might look askance at some of these big, gruff-looking workers, they are some of the nicest people I’ve met in my 36 years in the Ocean State. There is never a moment when I enter or leave without the door being held. And it’s not just for me, it’s for anyone. Men hold these gates for men and women, for young and old. Of course, their moms “raised them well,” as they would say in the South. Or maybe it’s just because they grew up or live in a place like Wyoming where some disparage the locals as “swamp Yankees”, never realizing that living in a small dot on the card gives you the sense of responsibility to defend it. Some with guns, others with a winning attitude. Some with both. Either/or, it works, and I have the privilege of living among them. That kind of small town mentality at its best rubs off on everyone.
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I cut my column short this week because I couldn’t let the day go by without comment. It’s been our 21 September 11 since that terrible Tuesday when we realized we had enemies we never thought possible when 2,996 innocent people were murdered, when we lived in fear of what the future could book us. We have come a long way in these 21 years – united, strengthened by adversity with prayer and hope united by the waving of our flags, showing that America cannot be brought down by our enemies. Today, our country is again divided, not by inflation, gas prices or a shortage of teachers. This time we are divided by ourselves. We have become the enemy born out of our own anger and fear. It’s time to STOP! To raise those flags again and while we’re at it, to rise up because America should never be brought down.
Take a tip from the hard working people who live in Wyoming and open a door.
Rona Mann has been a freelance writer for The Sun for 21 years, including her “In Their Shoes” articles. She can be reached at [email protected] or 401-539-7762.