On Monday, it will be two years since I have worked in Watertown and here are some things I have noticed:
1. I didn’t realize it at first, but after about a year or so, I began to notice that people – well many people anyway — like wearing masks. I must not have noticed that in year one, but in year two they seemed commonplace. That’s really an unusual custom that I don’t remember seeing before I got here. Who knows? Maybe it will catch on in the rest of country once it goes, um, viral.
2. I’ve never worked in a newsroom with ducks before. Sure, there have been some chickens, some asses and some real bears, but in the newsroom in Watertown, being right down by the river, it is not uncommon to have ducks as visitors. On more than one occasion in the summer when the weather is warm, they have marched in to our open door, all in a row, apparently looking for snacks.
3. It’s unusually easy to get lost here. When I first started here, our offices were on Main Street. And then one day it was gone. The whole building was gone. It was the strangest thing. What happened to our office? Fortunately, the nice people in the office on First Street took me in, gave me a job and agreed to keep me around. They even let me keep writing this column. Though they have started calling me the Town Square now.
4. There are other reasons it’s hard to find your way around. Like why is Dodge Street located in the Jefferson County side of town? And why is Western Avenue actually located on the south side of town. And why is there more than one Water Street and these roads are nowhere near each other? And was the street named after the town or the town after the streets? And speaking of that, why is it the City of Watertown? Is it a city or a town? It sounds confusing. And what about the Town of Watertown? Is it a stuttering issue?
5. I noticed that indoor plumbing must be a new thing here. In the winter of 2020, we had plumbers come into the office and install something that was not there, at least not recently anyway, a sewage pipe that connected to the city’s sewer system. I would have thought Watertown was a pretty modern city. Where I come from, indoor plumbing and sewers were commonplace, but this appears to be a new thing, because before Jensen Plumbing came in our sewage was pumped directly into the ground – not a septic system, but right into the ground. Once the word gets out, I think you’re going to be surprised at how many people adopt this new disposal system. It’s not only easier, but I am pretty sure it’s greener, too.
6. Maybe this explains why I had so much trouble buying toilet paper. There were weeks when it seemed like I could not find any toilet paper anywhere. Every city has its thing. Boston has beans. Milwaukee has beer. Baltimore has its crab. And, well, Watertown, apparently likes to keep things neat and tidy back there. And I think that’s a good thing.
7. And don’t forget about the architecture. Washington, D.C. has the Pentagon and Watertown, never willing to take a back seat to anybody, has the Octagon. It’s comforting to know that we have our own Defense Department to protect us from unwanted enemies, but ours is three sides better. Let’s call that 60% better. I hope they spend our tax dollars more wisely than the one near our nation’s capital.
8. There are also natural features that are impressive, but don’t hide your assets under a bushel basket, Watertown. If you have a river of rocks, don’t conceal it under all that water. You should show that off a little bit. There are plenty of rivers, but how many Rock Rivers are there?
9. And who knew that the Statue of Liberty was located right here on Fourth Street? I saw it with my own eyes, though it was a little bit smaller than I was expecting. I have always secretly wondered if it were made of cheese, but maybe it has been left out of the fridge a bit too long to get that color. (By the way, does that mean that’s a goat cheese statue on the tree stump tower just down the street from it?)
10. And contrary to rumors, Scott Free isn’t free. You have to buy the paper to get it. Sorry, folks, for the false advertising.