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The Wave

Bob Brown lives in Montour, above the falls and next to the bridge. He's been married for 25 years to Linda, has a son, Russ, who went to school in Odessa, and a daughter, Cathy, who went to school in Watkins. Many a quiet morning at the breakfast table, he says, soon evaporated with the statement from either of them: "Your school SUCKS!" Bob has a construction business that does a specialized form of welding on bridges and high rise buildings, and also a motorcycle repair business that you can view by clicking on the link He is also a town councilman for the Town of Montour.


By Bob Brown

The beep of the horn, a simple wave -- that's probably one of the most enamoring characteristics of a small town. We are fortunate that we live in an area where the horn is used as a form of greeting and not a substitute for the middle finger.

We moved here 21 years ago. We came from another small town, in Maine, where the keys were left in the car at the diner, people beeped when they drove by the house, and everybody waved at you. These were the things we missed most when we first moved here. We would see a truck that looked familiar but was driven by a stranger, no one to wave to, and no one who waved back. It was the simple human contact that often made us miss our last home.

That has all changed over the years. My wife and I walk our dog down to Chef's Diner in the morning. It has become a way for us to spend time together and get some fresh air and wave to a lot of people.

At first we waved to people who we got to know at the diner, the center of social gathering in any small town. The same people are at the counter almost daily, the same collection of businessmen in small groups who get together for talk about politics or sports or the latest gossip.

After a few years we got to know almost all of the people who frequent the diner, plus have become good friends with the owners and the waitresses and the cook. When we first started walking, there were a handful of people we waved to, the occasional person we actually knew, others who were headed for the same destination, the diner. Soon, we were also waving to many people we didn't know.

It is odd how it all starts. People get used to seeing you every day, and they just wave. Some people drive a car similar to one that belongs to someone we do know, so we wave first, and they wave back. Sometimes I have gone to scratch my nose and someone thought I was waving, so they waved back. Then they see us the following morning and wave again -- after all the ice has been broken and protocol is now set. On a sunny day with windshields that are tinted, it is tough to see inside, so maybe they waved and maybe they didn't. Not willing to offend them, I wave. Oops, it was someone I didn't know, another new person to wave to.

Over the years the number of people we wave to has steadily grown. My wife and I enjoy our walk and the people we get to share our small town hospitality with. It is what makes living in rural America valuable.

So if you see a middle-aged couple holding hands, walking their dog on the way to Chef's, just beep or wave.

We'll wave back.



© The Odessa File 2005
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869