Gibbs Avenue

Walking up Marion road, past the library sign and town offices, I turn right onto Gibbs Avenue. The side entry into Shaw’s is the first drive, followed by the driveways of many houses on both sides of the street. I walk past Highland Avenue on the right  and Bodfish Street on the left; High Street merges in farther down, followed by Park Avenue. Gibbs ends with a stop sign: First Congregational Church on the left, Memorial Park to the right, Main Street ahead. Gibbs is a favorite for walkers and drivers alike; I rarely walk its length without passing someone on the sidewalk, heading the other way.

There is a Cape Cod house on Gibbs that was empty when I moved to town. Its white paint had all but worn away, visible only around door sills and window frames. Queen Anne’s Lace and orange Day Lilies had taken over the whole yard and the once shell covered driveway had reverted to sand. Three years ago, the whole place was renovated – new windows, new siding, new residents. It’s a lovely old place and Gibbs is the better for its presence and restoration. I love the house, but I love its story even more…

There was a man from a wealthy family. He fell deeply in love with a woman. For whatever reason, his family didn’t approve of her. Then came the threat: leave her or lose your inheritance. He chose his love. They bought that Cape on Gibbs, making a marriage and a life together until her death. He remained until his death a disinherited outcast.

I don’t know any details of the couple who lived in this now renovated Cape on Gibbs Avenue. Love stories are remembered for their passion and sacrifices, not the daily acts and choices that mark a marriage. The Love Or Money ultimatum, when true love conquers all, is supposed to be followed by Happily Ever After – details just get in the way.

I love the story, but I wish the years had preserved more than the romance of it. The choice wasn’t really love or money, after all – it was the love that creates a new family or the love and benefits of parents, grandparents, and siblings – wings or roots. Love lost one way or the other.

Perhaps the man’s parents thought he would choose them. Foolish people to forget this holy truth:

Set me as a seal upon your heart,

as a seal upon your arm;

for love is strong as death,

passion fierce as the grave.

Its flashes are flashes of fire,

a raging flame.

Many waters cannot quench love,

neither can floods drown it.

(Song of Solomon 8:6-7, NRSV)

Question: What are the legends and fables that haunt the streets of your town?

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

2 thoughts on “Gibbs Avenue”

  1. How nice. One doesn’t hear of very many real, live love stories these days–even old ones.

    1. Isn’t that strange? Love stories are in movies and books, but not so much in real life. I hadn’t thought of that, and I’m glad you did. Any ideas why that is true? Peace, Johnna

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