Rumford was my father’s hometown, not mine, yet I still have a fondness for it, sometimes even a yearning for it. A milltown, many would say. But my father would exclaim as we came into town, “Oh, the foothills.”

Since my aunt died five years ago and the family house has been sold, I really have no reason to visit. The cousins who still live there, I’m not in touch with; most of the others have moved.

However, after having visited Rumford for well over 50 years, I don’t think it’s unusual to miss a place you have so many memories of.

Usually I visit Rumford once a year on the spur of the moment. This year, though, the night before I wanted to go, I planned. I called the Blue Iris motel (yes, they had a vacancy) and checked the weather report (a crisp, sunny day) and the hours and menu of Brian’s, in Bethel (yes, they had dinner that night).

So I made the trip.

When I drove into town, I immediately felt a connection and pure happiness. As Barbara Bartash from the stationery store in town said, “These are your roots.”

And they are. On that beautiful, sunny day, I could understand my father’s connection to his hometown and his love for it. I toured Congress Street, then rode by my grandparents’ house and, later, my aunt’s and uncle’s place.

Later that afternoon I drove to Bethel. I had fond memories of Brian’s Bistro in Rumford, so I wanted to try Brian’s new location. And I wanted to visit the town of Bethel, since the last time I saw it was 40 years ago for my cousin Bobby’s wedding.

I did see the Bethel Inn, which had expanded, and had a delicious Italian dinner out on the patio of Brian’s. En route, I saw a couple of logging trucks, which reminded me of the paper industry on which Rumford was built.

When I arrived back to the Blue Iris, I discovered a plus: My room had a patio overlooking the Androscoggin River.

The next day, after touring Bethel by car, I had a wonderful lunch at Chamberlain’s in the Hotel Harris in Rumford. Jason, the new owner, is a native of Rumford, so he was pleased to hear of my connection to the town.

I walked down Congress Street again and it was time to go. I didn’t want my trip to end, but I had no reason to stay.

So I left. But I left with a feeling of peace and contentment. And most importantly, the realization that Rumford is indeed where my roots are.

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