Oniontown is like an onion, a reality in layers, a town with many facets. So we can understand its heart thoroughly only through perseverance. Oniontown is not thought of as a nice place to go.
Locals keep away for fear of being shot. The stigma of Oniontown evokes it’s past, a place first inhabited by a family said to be inbred.
But in the 1950’s Ethel Smith moved up to New York and bought the land off of this family to start a family of her own. Located in a dead end street, in Duchess County, not far from New York City’s lights of modernity, this little community of 7 trailer homes, all deriving from the same extended family, has its own reality. Although some of the families subsist on welfare and disability checks, they live autonomously from the surrounding community and survive off of their own land, hunting deer in the woods out back and housing animals to sell. Many of the children live in broken homes, some with a parent in jail, or others who came to Oniontown because they had been abused and have nowhere else to go. These children capture love where they can find it. Despite this, there is a sensibility to Oniontown, of familial love, a sense of responsibility to protect and look after one another. This is a community comprised of fragil walls, and remains of discarded dolls, televisions, and motorcycles, all of which hold the pains and joys of the past.
The layers of Oniontown reveal a complex yet pimitive society under imaginary notes of a carillon out of tune, the memory of an amusement park, already ancient and forgotten.
Chiara Oggioni Tiepolo