PETALUMA - IIt takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a village to remember that child, to honor that child, to do something to make sure that child does not pass into the ether of time, becoming an empty shell of a memory. Petaluma is that village and Trevor Smith is that child.
So far as the people who donated were concerned, the lumber, the cement, the welding and masonry, the crane that lifted the scoreboard into place, all that happened in the dead of night, when no one was looking. That warning track dirt, it fell from the sky. The people who donated didn't need their names attached. Not necessary. The village does not have a corporate logo or brand awareness or Director of Sales.
A village shrugs at self-promotion. Yeah, sure, go ahead and make a joke. Tell 'em people in the Federal Witness Protection Program did it. Smith Field was dedicated Sunday afternoon and everyone who spoke at the ceremonies said "Petaluma" did it. It's as if a city of 55,000 had two arms, two legs and an unending amount of Red Bulls flowing through it day and night in the last two months, allowing it to dig and paint and drive and erect and sculpt and staple and pour and frame and ship and cajole and I know I'm leaving out 10 more action verbs.
"Around $10,000," that's Fred Hilliard's guess on the goods, materials and services that were donated. Hilliard is the vice president of the Petaluma American Little League. That $10,000 is pocket change in the big city and barely worth a mention in polite, gentrified company, unless that's what was spent last night when the Chief Financial Officer took all the big shots out to dinner.
But in Petaluma, applying $10,000 to a Little League baseball field strikes a resonant chord. Baseball fields belong in small towns like snow belongs in the Sierra. This is the town that comes out once a year to throw a parade that celebrates butter and eggs, for criminey sakes. Petaluma may have a moment or two of self-indulgence but any place that champions breakfast ingredients can't think of itself as the snooty elite. Rather, Petaluma goes in the other direction.
"This is a Norman Rockwell painting," Hilliard said.
And the people in that Norman Rockwell painting take the loss of one its souls right to the marrow. Trevor was only 13 when he lost his life in a traffic accident last June. He was in Little League since he was 6. Trevor was the kind of kid you would want to be your son, your brother, your nephew, your cousin, your teammate. He was the kind of kid you'd want to be around, the kind of kid you would follow as he got older, to see what he made of himself. And what he did for others.
"Trevor loved everybody," said his mother, Pam. "He had some gift."
In Small Town America, everybody knows everything about everybody, and everyone knew Trevor like that. The people know that Joe and Pam and their two sons, Dylan and Tyler, are still having some really bad patches. They know that Small Town America sometimes has these weird connections. When Pam was at Novato High School, one of her friends was Chris Cox. Even went with Chris in a group to Europe after their senior year.