Okay, I’m a sap for happy endings. I’m a incurable romantic . . . please, don’t bring it up. I like the stories on the Hallmark cable channel. What I don’t like are all the commercials and the denouement with the loose strands of the plot being tidied up in seconds for a story that stretched out hours with commercials. Enter Netflix. I’m currently hooked on When Calls the Heart. Hallmark has great family shows . . . and this is one of the best.
The story begins in 1910 in the Pacific Northwest (Canada). Elizabeth Thatcher, a young teacher from a rich family comes to Coal Valley for her first class. She’s robbed on the way, can’t cook, and burns down the house the town provided for her when she tries to dry her rain soaked clothes. The school is in a saloon, many of the townsfolk think she is out of her element, but still she wants to prove her worth without her family’s money paving the way. Rerouted from normal Royal Canadian Mounted Police work is Jack Thorton. Money is power and influence. Elizabeth’s father arranged the assignment to an otherwise lawless town to protect his daughter. So, we have Tess Trueheart and Dudley Doright . . . you know she will have problems; you know he will save her; and you know they will fall in love. Who cares? I do. You will.
So, what is the point? Every Sunday morning my wife and I share articles we like from the Sunday morning papers. A Seattle Times review “Revelatory book explores ‘Our Towns’ and what makes some thrive” touched home with the book and the review recommendation: Our Towns A 100,000-mile journey into the heart of America.
“The title of James and Deborah Fallows’ new book, “Our Towns: A 100,000-mile Journey into the Heart of America,” recalls Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town.” But where Wilder displays a feeling of despair lingering in America’s small towns, the Fallowses find a spirit of satisfaction, if not outright pride by their residents.” – Nick Licata
In the Hallmark series When Calls the Heart we are shown a company town. There’s a mayor and the people are proud of their children, but almost everything depends on the coal mine. The mine is not poisoning the land, but management cuts corners killing many miners and threatens the widows . . . and eventually shuts down. Instead of seeking jobs elsewhere the residents change the town name to Hope Valley and continue on. In the book review, the authors mention everything depends up on the reactions of the citizens for salvation: “they talk about the rebirth of towns in the face of declining jobs, vanishing businesses and shrinking populations.” The people support each other emotionally . . . not everyone of course, for we are all human.
The authors of the book, Our Towns are James and Deborah Fallows, who flew from town to town in their one single-engine prop airplane talking to people about challenges, and solutions. “Overall, the Fallowses discovered that while national politics are divisive, successful communities ignore those divisions and focus on getting things done. They point to Michael Coleman in Columbus, Ohio, and Ashley Swerengin in Fresno, California, where a Democrat and Republican were elected and stayed in office, despite their respective communities being strongholds of the opposite party. They remained popular because they avoided rhetoric and focused on concrete solutions. Not a bad message to hear these days.” When Calls the Heart was just signed for its seventh season, so the story pre-dates both the research and the book. So far it looks like the Hallmark storyline follows the discovery of the interviews and conclusions.
I belong to a book group and will propose this book to my fellow members when we meet this month. If you read the book, please send me your ideas from what you gather along with suggestions for a better tomorrow. Pierce County is filled with small towns . . . and each one is facing some sort of change . . . and many challenges. Please, share. If you watch the series, also let me know your opinions . . . just don’t break my heart.