Is Madison Really Mayberry?
For years, I’ve heard how wonderful Madison is and how people who move here compare it to Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Show. (I can still whistle the tune). Having lived and worked in town all my life, I feel uniquely qualified to weigh in on their assessment of Madison. I was onlypartly right.
First of all, let me tell you a little about myself. I was born in 1959 and grew up on Bardon Street. My mother, who is 83, still lives there. I went to Central Avenue School,the Junior School, and Madison High, graduating in 1977. I went to Fairleigh Dickinson University for undergrad and UMDNJ in Newark for Dental School. I’ve lived in Madison all my life with the exception of a few years in Florham Park and a year in Chatham. Not exactly the world traveler.
I started to realize that Madison was special while I was in dental school in Newark.
When the doctors on staff found out I was from Madison, they would say “that’s a good town.” I never thought much about it, I was more focused on exams.
After I finished school and in the early years of my career, I worked at several practices in North Jersey, both urban and suburban settings. That’s the first time I started to “get it.”
You see, having never really lived or worked anywhere before, I thought every place was just like Madison. I didn’t know what I had because I didn’t know what others didn’t have.
When those newbies in town become so enamored with Madison, I remember thinking, “Yea, I remember when it really was Mayberry.” As a kid, if I rode my bike in a part of town that I wasn’t supposed to be in, my mother knew about it before I got home. And there were no cell phones back in those days! (Opie’s got nothing on me.)
A long time has passed since I began my career, and I have traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and even to Central America to practice dentistry. The places ranged from nice resorts to inner city hospitals and small remote villages. But for all the places I’ve been to, I realize that Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz” had it right when she said, “there’s no place like home.”
As I start my fifth decade in town, I’m happy to see the storefronts in the downtown filled with new businesses. I’m happy many of my friends and fellow business owners are still around. They have ridden out the financial storm and have kept their businesses in town. In spite of a significant slump in the housing market, homes in town still keep selling.
My vision for the future of Madison is bright. I was disappointed that New Jersey Monthly didn’t include Madison in the top 100 towns in New Jersey!
(What’s up with that?) I know we have a parking problem. I know about the
budget. I know taxes are high. I know we have all the same problems as most other towns. I encourage those in town who have the responsibility of decision making to keep in mind the image of what Madison looked like in
the past and to see what the future needs to be and make decisions that support
You know, I’ve never won the lottery. I don’t have much luck in Atlantic
City. I have enough losing raffle and 50/50 tickets that if I burnt them in the fireplace, I could heat the house for the month of February. But that’s OK, because I’ve been blessed to live and work in a great place: Madison. And I don’t even have to click my heels three times to get there.
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Thanks for the ride,
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