Editorial: Conway neighbors show the way

Right neighborly.

That may seem some sort of quaint phrase to someone coming to western Massachusetts from outside the region — from the eastern part of the state or even one of the more urban areas south of here. But when you call one of the 26 communities that make up Franklin County your home, you understand how good neighbors can make such a difference in setting things right.

This isn’t surprising in our region. We have seen it countless times when some sort of difficulty strikes. Still, we marvel at the way people from a community can jump into action to help.

The latest example, of course, was in Conway at the Boyden Bros. Sugarhouse, when a spark from the wood fire used to boil sap went up the chimney and landed back in the storage area where split logs were “packed to the rafters.” Before anyone knew what had happened, those logs were burning.

“When I saw the fire, I went inside, got everyone out and told them we’re losing the building,” Howard Boyden told The Recorder Monday. Boyden, a former fire captain with the volunteer fire department in town, used a garden hose to try to keep the fire from spreading to the rest of the sugarhouse. Boyden credits a passerby, Stanley Ostrowski, with lending a hand in holding off the fire. Their efforts kept the fire from spreading long enough for firefighters to arrive and to keep the main part of the building from going up in flames.

“If we lost the sugarhouse, it would have put me out of business,” Boyden said. “There’s over $200,000 in there. It’s not insured; you just can’t get insurance for a sugarhouse.”

Just as Boyden was determined to make sure he’d be open on Monday to sell maple syrup and other products, his Conway neighbors were resolved to help, resulting in a work bee to help clean up and repair the damage. This volunteer workforce included many of the firefighters who had been there Sunday handling hoses and pumpers.

“Howard’s well known as someone who’s always willing to help others,” Nick Filler told The Recorder the day after the fire. “It’s no surprise that there are people here with nothing to do because there are already so many people helping.”

“It’s humbling to have everyone helping me,” Boyden replied. “This is community at its finest.”

We don’t disagree. And when you witness so much discord elsewhere, you realize just how special it is to live here.