BALDWINVILLE – They meet weekly at American Legion Station 373. On Monday mornings, between 8 and 10 a.m., a group of local veterans gather to discuss everything from the weather to current events to what’s happening in the community.
And now they invite members of the public to join their (very) informal coffee and conversation program.
“Just come to chat and fellowship. You don’t have to be a veteran, but if you want to talk to a veteran you can,” said post commander Jim Cutting, who lives in Phillipston but grew up in Baldwinville. “We can talk about whatever comes to your mind; it’s not always military stuff. Sometimes we get together and talk about things we used to do when we were kids and how surprised we are to still be alive to talk about it.
Conversation topics range from politics to pumpkins
Recent topics at rallies have included such topics as fly fishing, auto repair, gardening and hiking, according to Cutting.
“And politics happens wherever you are,” Cutting added with a smile. “Everyone has an opinion on it.
Baldwinville resident Bob Gentle, a non-veteran member of the post, recently attended the weekly meeting to help cut through with sending out tickets for the post’s annual turkey/meat draw on Saturday, November 12. He said he enjoyed the social aspect of the Coffee and Conversation Program.
“There are a lot of good people here, and the stories range from military stories to pumpkin tales of someone not doing well in the garden,” Gentle said.
Speaking of pumpkin gardening, Phillipston veteran Joe Lorion attended a recent gathering and told others that sometimes he felt like he was growing his squash exclusively for a squirrel that lived near his home. the bridge, and I’ve never seen a squirrel that big,” Lorion said.
Jim Brehio, a member of the executive committee of the American Legion in Massachusetts, said the weekly gatherings are an opportunity for veterans and civilians to socialize in an informal setting.
“When you come to a (official) meeting, it’s all business, it’s busy and there are other things going on, and it’s night and it’s going fast,” Brehio said. “So they come here, and they can really talk to each other. And it doesn’t have to be from veteran to veteran; members of the public can come in just to shoot the breeze with someone.
Legion Post is a big part of the community
Brehio said one of the purposes of the weekly meetings was to remind the public that their local American Legion post makes up a big part of the community, with members volunteering for projects such as cleaning gravestones in the veterans’ cemeteries, collecting food for local food drives and distributing backpacks to students.
“The American Legion is a service-based community organization,” Brehio said.
Another goal of the program, he said, was to remind residents that the American Legion was more than just a bar. I say, “I didn’t know you had to do that,” Brehio said.
Cutting said he was grateful to live in a community that appreciates its local veterans. “You like to see that,” he said.