“There was something artistic about the Beach,” Allison said. “I’d come here and walk around and think, ‘This is such a cool town. I want to be part of the community.’ ”
“You could strike up a conversation with just about anyone, you could walk anywhere, it was all very laid-back,” she recalled.
Allison and Cutcher liked it so much they bought a house there.
Today they’re in their 40s and they still relish the town’s quirkiness and down-to-earth people but say it has evolved. People drive to stores and walk around with digital devices in hand. New people moving in aren’t fishermen. Many have high incomes.
And the town is spreading. “It’s no longer small,” said Allison. The population is about 5,800. “There’s a magic number when it starts to change, maybe around 3,000. You can sense it. You don’t know everyone. People still walk over to introduce themselves and there’s still a neighborly feel, but it’s not as social.”
Community involvement: People love living here and “cooperate as a community,” said James L. Parent, town administrator for four years and resident for 32. “If someone is in need, everyone wants to help.”
Allison agreed and said after hurricanes some people came around asking, “What can we do?” and others saying, “Let’s meet at the beach and we’ll clean it up.”
“When a call goes out for volunteers for the spring beach cleanup or for our oyster program — we have 65 oyster cages on the trail — and we announce that we’re going to take the oysters out and lay them on the reef, the community comes and does the work. Sometimes more people than we know what to do with show up,” Parent said.
The crime rate is low, and police representatives attend council meetings to keep town officials informed. Once people complained about car break-ins and stolen property, but after investigating, police explained that they weren’t break-ins — people had left their cars unlocked. Scoundrels just opened the doors and took things. “We told people, ‘Lock your cars,’ ” Parent said.
The residential streets are quiet and leafy; you may even see a rabbit hopping across the road. Houses are an eclectic mix of nicely spaced one- and two-story bungalows and cottage-style structures.
A few McMansions with multiple balconies mar the aesthetic, Allison and Cutcher say, hoping not too many more will come in.
Many people tend gardens. “If I walked down the street and admired someone’s plants they’d say, ‘Oh, take one,’ ” Allison said.
Over the years she cultivated a rose garden with more than 500 varieties, black gladiolus, and various fruit trees — pear, apple, plum, peach and nectarine. When a neighboring property went on the market, the seller promoted a view of the Allison-Cutcher garden as a selling point.