In one of my favorite “Brady Bunch” episodes (Season 2, Episode 21, “The Winner”), Bobby Brady — the youngest of the male members of the family — feels as though he needs a trophy to validate his place within the family.
You see, Bobby lives in a household full of winners, all of whom have won some sort of trophy over the years. When little sister Cindy — the youngest one in curls — comes home from school with a trophy for being the best jacks player on the playground (Seriously? A trophy for jacks?) Bobby is crestfallen.
At his parents urging, young Bobby spends the next 24 minutes trying to win a trophy. This vision quest culminates with Bobby entering — and ultimately losing — an ice cream eating contest on a local television show. I must admit, I nearly shed a tear when Bobby — in his corduroy suit, ice cream dripping down his cherubic face — forlornly states, “I lost … again.”
All is not lost, however, because when Bobby gets home, his sympathetic siblings have thrown him a party — complete with a trophy — for being the best brother he can be and always trying the hardest.
You see, the youngest Brady boy didn’t need some silly trophy or commendation to earn the affection and acceptance of his siblings — they already loved him unconditionally and already knew he was the best brother they could possibly ask for.
And you know what, I don’t need the city of Troy, Ohio, to win some trophy or some semifinalist nod in the America’s Best Communities competition to love my hometown unconditionally.
And I certainly don’t need a piece of paper to know Troy is the greatest community in America, planet Earth or the Milky Way (galaxy, not candy bar).
Last week, our fair city — which had earlier been named one of 50 quarterfinalists in the ABC competition — learned it had not made the cut down to 15 semifinalists. While I’m not going to bash the cities that did make the cut — I’m sure they all are fine communities in their own right and the residents of those towns are justifiably proud of their respective hometowns — they aren’t Troy.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely up front in that I am biased about the town in which I live and if I were forced to choose a “best city” in a competition between Troy, Eden, Shangri-La and Xanadu, I’d pick the town that hosts the Strawberry Festival every year.
To me, Troy is everything I could ever possibly ask for. It’s a small town with some big-city amenities or a big city with small-town charm — depending on your point of view, I suppose. It’s high school football in the fall, the tree lighting in the winter, bright young minds graduating every spring and fireworks every summer.
It’s the place where all of your teachers taught one of your siblings, the mayor knows you by name and you never feel uncomfortable walking next door to borrow a cup of sugar from one of your neighbors.
Troy is the kind of town where you don’t feel uncomfortable leaving your door unlocked for long stretches of time, local festivals are big news and if you really need to talk to someone, you’ll probably see them in church on Sunday anyway.
No, Troy is not perfect or without its warts. It is, however, the closest thing to perfection I’ve ever seen. Of course, I’ve also lived here my entire life, so maybe I don’t have a lot of other living experiences to which I can compare it. By the same token, maybe I’m also smart enough not to leave a good thing when I’ve got it.
So yes, maybe an organization doesn’t think Troy is America’s best community — or even the top 15 — but that’s OK with me. I don’t need someone else to tell me what I already know.
There’s no place like home and there’s no place like Troy.
Troy’s very own David Fong appears on Thursdays in the Troy Daily News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong