So if you read my previous post, you’ll see a good ol’ dumping on my long-ago hometown and its refusal to retire the Indian mascot from its sports teams.
What followed was the standard reaction—some amens, some boos. But one reaction that hit me hard was from a Mahopac High teacher and former classmate, who said on my Facebook page: Jeff never passes on a chance to bash his old hometown does he.
And I was thinking: That’s a fair criticism. I haven’t lived in Mahopac for decades. I’m definitely an outsider looking in. I observe, I hear, I write–but I’m far from connected with the nitty gritty of it all. I’m not spending my days driving down Route 6, eating at the Freight House Cafe, jogging around the high school track.
So, again, that criticism is fair.
And, I’ll say this: I think I’m hard on Mahopac because, deep down, I love Mahopac. I loved riding my bike into town, grabbing sodas and gum at Rodak’s Deli. I loved the slices of pizza at Cacciatori’s. I loved running through the woods and exploring the burned-out mansion. I loved sleighing down my street when the snow was just right. I loved the Millers and the Garganos and the Walkers and the Adrians and the Powells and the Ballerinis. I loved my prom. I loved my track team. I loved Lake Mahopac. I loved how orange and yellow everything was in the fall.
I loved so much about Mahopac, and that teacher is right—I am far too hard on the town. Fact.
But … it hurts me. And seeing yet another depiction of a Native American on the yearbook … and knowing too many Mahopacians who run with the #MAGA and don’t want to actually understand the differences between “Indian” and “Native American”—it burns me. It does. Probably out of love. Or nostalgia. Or something.
Even 3,000 miles and 30 years removed.
So am I overzealous and overly pointed and mean? Probably. Am I the one to offer the most piercing criticisms? Probably not.
To cite our grand leader, it is what it is.