Finding a ‘home’ in Manchester

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MHT Downtown


graziano“Home” is a slippery term. It can mean vastly different things for different people in different contexts, and it isn’t solely based on its location.

Whenever someone asks me about my “home,” my answer has remained consistent for 48 years[1]: My “home” is in West Warwick, Rhode Island.

This past weekend, I made the two-hour southern trek “home” for my goddaughter’s baptism on Sunday, where the priest performed the ceremony in the same Catholic church where my parents were married.

The history is part of what makes it “home” for me.

On Saturday night, after going out for an authentic Italian dinner with my parents, we took a “This Is Your Life” ride through some old stomping grounds.

We drove past the houses where my parents grew up and the house where we lived when I was born; we drove past the high school I attended and the Little League field where I played baseball; we then drove along the Pawtuxet River, past the mills dating back to the Industrial Revolution, some of which have been renovated into apartments or business offices.

While driving through my hometown, it occurred to me that West Warwick and Manchester—the city where I’ve lived and raised my family for the past two decades—are essentially the same place, a similar kind of “home” for me.

Now, anyone who has scratched their way through an American history course knows that there are no shortages of old mill towns in New England, and there’s nothing remarkable about the fact that I’ve lived almost my entire life in two of them.

But there are also a similar denizens who inhabit both Manchester and West Warwick, the blue-collar heroes whose families have lived there for generations without ever straying far from “home.”

And there is a bar in each of my “homes” that serves as an epicenter for the locals to gather. Anyone familiar with this column knows that I pass some time at Chelby’s Pizza on Mammoth Road, chewing the fat and tossing back brews with the other regulars.

In West Warwick[2], there’s a bar called On the Roch’s that I’ve affectionately dubbed Chelby’s South, and every time I go “home,” I seem to end up there, gabbing and drinking beers with the West Warwick regulars[3].

I’ve now lived in Manchester longer than I lived in West Warwick, which was roughly 18 years before I left town to attend Plymouth State in the early-90s. “Home,” as I said, is a slippery term and one that I can’t precisely define because it is visceral for me. It is where I feel included and supported and loved.

The human soul seeks out a “home” for its nourishment.

And after 48 years, I’m ready to call Manchester my “home.” And while my “homes” may not be idyllic, in terms of locations, there are no places that I’d rather be.

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[1]  I’m actually writing this column on my 48th birthday.

[2] On the Roch’s is technically located in Warwick but sits on the borderline.

[3] It is not an anomaly to run into an old high school classmate in the same way that old Manchester classmates reunite at Chelby’s all of the time; however, it should be noted that Manchester has three high schools while West Warwick only has one.


About this Author

Nathan Graziano

Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester with his wife and kids. He's the author of nine collections of fiction and poetry. His most recent book, Born on Good Friday was published by Roadside Press in 2023. He's a high school teacher and freelance writer, and in his free time, he writes bios about himself in the third person. For more information, visit his website: http://www.nathangraziano.com