Mary Campisi
Mary Campisi
Mary Campisi

What do you mean, there’s no mall? Finding wealth in small town life.

As a reader, I’m always curious about what drove the writer to pen a certain book. A story in a newspaper? A real life experience that spun imagination and possibility in ten different directions to create a tale? An emotion? It could be any or all of these things. Or none of them. I write quite a bit about small town life, and there’s a reason for that. It’s where I grew up, learned about people and relationships, and it’s often home base for my stories.

maple leaf in snow

maple leaf in snow

I grew up in a small town in northwestern Pennsylvania and the title of this blog, What do you mean, there’s no mall? Finding wealth in small town life, is dead on. There were four of us kids, my two older brothers, me, and my younger sister—all of us born within 5 ½ years. There were no McDonalds in our town, no malls, no fancy movie theaters. I used to walk over a mile to school every day, (yes, I really did!) Time was filled with snippets of everyday life; weeding the flower beds and vegetable garden by hand and getting snail guts under my nails, holding the flashlight while my brothers caught night crawlers, helping my mother bake bread or hang sheets on the line so they could “catch the fresh air”. Huddling with my sister in bed on Easter Sunday before Mass and gorging on a milk chocolate baby doll, planting a maple tree—my maple tree—with my father in our back yard, listening to my grandmother speak in broken English as she told stories of being a young girl in Italy and coming to America. Getting ready to go out on Saturday night and fighting over one shower and one hairdryer between the four of us…

Today, my brothers and sister and I live hundreds of miles away from that little town in Pennsylvania, but it is still part of us, it will always be part of us, because that’s where we learned the true meaning of family and friendship, and the importance of honoring your word.

And so, when I decided to write about small-town life and its people with their traditions and values, I thought about my world as a child and as an adult and what was important then, and now. Family, community, hope, second chances. I also thought about “real wealth” and what that means. Is it a balanced stock portfolio and a seven-figure income? Or is it more elusive …intangible…something that cannot be measured or identified or even…understood? Is real wealth that, which reaches out to us, touches our hearts, our souls, filling us yet leaving us longing for more? Is it a fall morning, crisp and clear, with the tip of frost covering green, … a smile, full and honest… a tradition handed down… a string of memories planted with a maple tree…

I hope you join me as I continue the journey to small-town life with my books.

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