In Rhode Island, where aversion to long-distance driving is legendary, you might find it edifying to know that Burrillville “is a lot closer than you think.”
This information comes from a promotional website touting the virtues of that down-home community, tucked so far into our state’s northwest corner that it touches both Connecticut and Massachusetts.
That doesn’t mean Burrillville hasn’t had its 15 minutes of fame. In 2010 it even found a place on television’s animated and irreverent “Family Guy,” created by RISD graduate Seth MacFarlane and set in Rhode Island. But it probably wasn’t a tourist draw that the episode compared the town to the North Pole.
Burrillville is akin to hot wieners, calamari, and dynamite sandwiches, in that given the chance, Rhode Islanders will be quick to tell you what they think of it.
This was apparent recently on the popular Facebook page “Grew Up in Rhode Island,” a repository of information, debate and nostalgia that leaves no topic ignored when it comes to details about our quirky little state. Last time I checked, nearly 89,000 people were page members, and the floodgates of discussion were open because someone from Cranston was moving to Burrillville and wanted impressions of his new community.
Responses were passionate and mixed, with one native son viewing his town this way:
“I grew up in Burrillville and we had REAL GUNS at 10 years, we had old cars and old trucks and homemade tractors, and we drove all over the place when we were just kids… I will say if you are a city lover then Burrillville is not for you.”
As for the popularity of REAL GUNS, it’s true that in 2019 municipal leaders declared Burrillville a sanctuary Second Amendment community. But many postings on the Facebook page took aim at other characteristics in framing the essence of the town:
– Get a dog and some huskies. Good pair of boots and a woman with a 4 x 4. Might need a chainsaw, too.
– Be prepared to drive more than a mile for Dunkin.
– Burrillville is a quiet, friendly place.
– Bring a big snow shovel and lots of bug spray.
– We moved … 25 years ago from growing up in Providence, love it here, wouldn’t change a thing. Very rural. Have great neighbors as well.
– Get a goat.
– Bring a fishing pole and a great attitude. We are glad to have you.
– No Stop & Shops, so by the time you get home your ice cream will be melted.
– Echo lake, some of the cleanest and most beautiful bodies of water in RI.
– Throw out your fancy clothes.
– Last year I had a mountain lion in my backyard.
– Burrillville is BEAUTIFUL!
– If you love guns and hate diversity, you’ve found your sweet spot. Mind your business.
– Buy two baseball hats. One for weddings and dressing up and one for everyday use.
– Turn back!!
– Best move you’ve ever made.
– There are approximately 12 black bear dens in a 10-mile radius. Enjoy!
– Lots of tree frogs at night instead of ambulances and cops.
I must admit, that last one nearly had me – how about you? Now that spring is here, you might consider driving out there and assessing the place for yourself. Even if you live in, say, Newport or Westerly, don’t be daunted by the mileage – Burrillville is a lot closer than you think.
Gerry Goldstein (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a retired Providence Journal editor and columnist.