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Anytown USA  

By Jane Kelly

When I was a little girl I wanted to live in Anytown, USA.

cape may njI knew exactly what my dream town looked like. I’d been there many times. Well, not been in the sense that my physical body had visited Anytown but Disney programs transported me there on a regular basis and I figured that Walt hadn’t made the place up.

After all, a starry-eyed Judy Garland and a naive Mickey Rooney resided in the neighborhood. I saw them in the movies that played on the Late Show. And they weren’t the only ones. Sometimes even Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn and Myrna Loy took up residence. I wanted to live there too. At 123 Main Street.

Not that 123 Main Street would be much different than any other house on the block. Standing in that spot for over fifty years (2004 update: 100 years) 123 Main Street would be a house for every season.

Cool in the summer when protected by the shade of the tall trees that lined Main Street. Festive in the spring when the carefully planted garden came to life. Sparkling during the holidays with a tall tree in the bay window. But 123 Main Street would never be more welcoming than in the autumn when accessorized by the gold and red of the fall leaves.

Sitting on the wide front porch of the Victorian house (in my memory all the houses in Anytown USA were Victorian) I would only have to lean over the railing to greet the neighbors strolling down the sidewalk (Anytown always had sidewalks) or cruising by on bicycles (some specially designed to accommodate entire families). Even after Indian Summer had passed I could wrap a throw around my shoulders, rock in the cool autumn air and watch the world go by. In Anytown, the world always passed by my front door.

As pleasant as my dream house’s porch was I couldn’t stay home all the time.

Not in Anytown, a town with a great park, an expanse of green lawn with a gazebo that made me fantasize about ladies in long dresses carrying lacy parasols when there was no threat of rain. Not in Anytown where there was so much going on.

In Anytown I could walk to special events, to the park or to the shopping district, a quaint strip of stores not just for shopping but for meeting and greeting. If I got a little tired I could take advantage of benches for the convenience of the tired and those who enjoyed a little people watching – although that could be done best from the sidewalk cafes.

Yes, life would be good in Anytown. If only I could find it. As time went by and I grew up and then old, I realized that the Anytown USA on my television screen was far from common. It existed in only a few neighborhoods across the entire country.

Then I discovered that one of those places was right at the tip of New Jersey – where nature had even thrown in a beautiful beach to boot.







Yes, Cape May turned out to Anytown USA but unlike any town I know.

Jane Kelly is the author of three mysteries with a humorous twist set at the Jersey shore.

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