What growing up in Princeton, MA was really like

Everyone knows everyone

Even though the entire population of Princeton, Massachusetts is 10 times smaller than the student body at Umass Amherst, our town culture runs deep throughout the people who have spent their whole lives growing up in the beautiful town.

Ever wonder what it’s like to grow up in a town where you know everybody? Well, here are few of the things that make Princeton, Princeton.

princeton, massachusetts

 We are proud of our town’s history, no matter how terrifying it is

There is a sort of coming-of-age in Princeton during which students at Thomas Prince School are introduced to the town’s precious history. The entire fourth grade is taken out around town to important historical locations where we are told the different stories that shaped our town. These stories include the tale of a little girl who went missing, women who were abducted by Indians, the graphic slaughtering of townsfolk by the Native people, and more details on the ghosts that are said to haunt Princeton’s woods and town hall. 

redemption rock princeton, massachusetts

We were taken to cemeteries where these ghosts were buried, to the sites of terrible fires and to Redemption Rock, where a woman was traded for money to get her back from the Natives who had captured her and killed her friend.

Needless to say, most of us didn’t sleep for weeks afterwards. But, hey, we knew about our town’s history.

The only crimes are committed by farm animals

This is an actual police log entry from this month in Princeton, MA:

1:18 p.m. Caller reports loose pig, Calamint Hill Rd North.

Sound familiar? The police in Princeton spend more time assisting other towns, getting cats out of trees and catching loose animals than doing actual police work. Here are a few other great police calls: 

2:52 p.m. Caller reports horse near Mirick Rd. 

4:18 p.m. Caller states phone is broken and wanted to make sure she could call 9.1.1., Main St. 

8:06 p.m. Caller asking if it’s legal to drive his tractor to his mailbox with an open container and “a buzz on”. Advised it isn’t allowed as others have access to the road, Hubbardston Rd.

But this is what you get when there are more horses than people in your town.

Stars Hollow is a pretty accurate representation

People like to refer to the charming hometown of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore as the picture perfect example of a small town. Princeton is close to exactly the same thing. We’ve got a town center with a gazebo where most town events occur. We also have a local dance studio with probably around 20 students, a local ice cream shop, and a small cafe where you will recognize everyone inside.

princeton, massachusetts

We have that one sketchy restaurant where you can get pretty much everything (our version of Al’s Pancake world), a tiny market where you can buy any necessities and a quaint, family-run antique shop.

Everyone in Princeton knows everyone else and we have our designated versions of Ms. Patty and Babett who know all the on-goings and gossip in town. Basically, all we’re missing is a video store that rents only VHS tapes and Princeton would be exactly the same as Stars Hollow.

We still aren’t really sure what ‘cable’ is

Everyone seems to have an opinion about this crazy thing they call “cable,” but we have yet to attain such a modern amenity. In fact, most  Princetonians I’ve talked to about this still aren’t really sure how cable even works. It’s all a bit too complicated for our taste. Growing up, we had four channels and didn’t move up to the satellite TV life until I was in high school. Needless to say, kids in Princeton grow up hiking Wachusett Mountain and enjoying the great outdoors! 

And cable is just one of the things Princeton is lacking. We also don’t have a gas station, a stop light, good internet or cell signal. But who needs all that when you have beautiful scenery, fresh air and the Mountain Barn?

In Princeton, Massachusetts, we find that most people struggle to understand what ‘small town’ means

All Princetonians have been there. You’re in a conversation with a new acquaintance who asks where you’re from. “A small town just outside of Worcester,” you say. “Oh, yeah I’m from a small town too,” they respond. “There are only 20,000 people in my town. We only have one Dunkin’ Donuts!” You stare for a moment, then burst out laughing because, in Princeton, you can name the family that lives in 90% of the houses you drive by.

But if you really want to know what it’s like to live in Princeton, Massachusetts, you’ll just have to come experience it for yourself.

UMass Amherst