Tag Archives: Small town

Ahhh.. .the Memories

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My Mother is planning with her two brothers to clean out my Grandmother’s house. She asked me if I wanted anything out of the house. I had to stop and think, I couldn’t think of anything tangible that I would want from her house.

As I tried to think, I remembered way back to my childhood days. I lived only 6 miles away from them and our house was on the way to their church. They stopped by after church every Sunday morning and before and after church every Wednesday and Sunday evening. While these visits did get tedious at times, when we had other company, etc. I am really thankful that they did that. I know not everyone is blessed with grandparents or to live in such close proximity, like I was. Sunday after the morning service I would often get to go spend the afternoon with Grandma and Grandpa, since they could just drop me back off at home on their way to the evening service. 🙂 Every Sunday for lunch, rain, shine, snow, hail – it didn’t matter, it was burgers on the grill for lunch. If it was nice outside, I would play on the big wheel whilst Grandpa cooked. We always, always, had fruit after lunch/dinner. When I played outside after lunch, I loved the playhouse in their back yard. Since I was an only child, sometimes my cousins on my Dad’s side of the family would come down and we would play drive through or house. When they didn’t come down, I would play wiffle ball in the back yard with Grandpa pitching me the ball and every once in a while Grandma would. Occasionally, Grandpa would drive over to the Wedge in Illiopolis for an ice cream cone. Grandma and Grandpa would often take care of me when I was sick as a child so my mom could go to work. They took me to the doctor a time or two. What item in the house could possibly hold meaning to me?

Then, after I had given up trying to think of an item, it came to me like a ton of bricks. Something that I always did when I went there from the time I could reach it to the last time I was there… the cookie jar. It was the same cookie jar that I remember from way, way back. Grandma wasn’t always the best cook – once in a while she would forget an ingredient in the cookies. I think one time she forgot flour… but that is okay, I do the same – or mix out of order, or forget to set the timer…. For the most part, there was always some good cookies to nibble on. So, I asked for the cookie jar. Every time I look at it, I will think of the memories I have while eating cookies at Grandma’s house. And then I thought more broadly, outside of the house, to the many times they stopped by before and after church. One common occurrence was pennies. You see, usually Grandma would go into the kitchen with my Mom and Grandpa would go into the living room where my Dad was watching TV, sit in the recliner and pop off his artificial leg. Sometimes he would take the cushion off and rub his stump. This is one of those instances that became tedious if we had other company as it tends to really freak people out when someone removes their leg. 🙂 I would usually be in the living room, as that was where the window to the driveway was. Grandpa would pull out his coins and hand me the pennies pennieshe had in his hand. And he would always, always say, “Those are for you, but don’t tell your Grandma…ok? Or she will be mad.” Sure enough Grandpa! Of course I am sure you can guess what happened next. I would get bored with the men talking of car parts and other things a 7 year old wasn’t interested in and head to the kitchen. Once I got into the kitchen, Grandma would pull her coin purse out and do the same. There was only a dining room in between the kitchen and living room. It was open between, so I am sure that they each knew they were doing that… but who was I to second guess?? I was told to be tight lipped about it.. so I did. 😀

That was when I told my Mom if the coin purses are still around there, I would like to have one of them. Not because it is tied to money, but because I can visualize the coin purse perfectly. I think they always carried the same one. I guess I will find out if it has withstood the test of time, or if it has dissolved into a pile of dust.

My Grandfather mentioned above has been the subject of several of my posts about miracles. He passed away over 16 years ago, but it seems like just last year. In reality, my Grandmother has declined over the past year with osteopenia and dementia. After several instances of extreme confusion – once she was pulled over in a Kroger parking lot. The police officer was so concerned about her mental state that he had my uncle come pick her up. At Christmas she was her usual self, being less stubborn about using a cane but still as stubborn as a mule on using a walker. She had been so stubborn on both of those subjects for two years that she had a severe lean to one side and her balance while walking suffered. Every family talks about nursing homes, but at Christmas time, it was painfully obvious that the time was very near. She was becoming unable to care for herself due to Alzheimer’s Disease. Medicine was a huge concern – was she taking enough, was she taking it at all? Some of the vertigo issues could have been caused by an overdose on one of the meds. A few days later is when that day came.

Less than a few days after Christmas, my uncle took her to the hospital as she had fallen down four times before noon. There was no real reason medically for the falling but the confusion and off the wall conversations were happening all the time. She went to a nursing home from the hospital. While it is certainly in her best interests, it is still a sad state of affairs. I guess because it is change and a change that forces you to face the reality of the situation. The house will be empty or filled with a new family, but it won’t be Grandma and Grandpa’s house any more.

Life is all about change, isn’t it? I remember how excited pennies made me as a kid… as an adult, we may not even pick a penny up off the street. I hope that I am around my grandchildren enough to give them memories like I have of my grandparents. And I hope that they always have memories to remember me.

Life in a Small Town

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If you grew up in a small town and I left any important qualifiers out, please comment below!

When I was in high school, one of our homework assignments was to write about the attractions of our home town. Well, I went to the teacher and politely asked, “Mr. Main, the assignment is to write on the attractions of our hometown?” And he politely replied, “Yes.” So, being a high school student and sarcastic, I questioned, “But, Mr. Main, I live in Latham.” He just laughed and said that there had to be something there. Well, truth be told, there really wasn’t. But, again, remember I was sarcastic, so I did the assignment.

The lake. This oversized mud hole is enclosed in fencing and is located on the edge of town. No room for a fishing boat let alone a ski boat. People don’t eat the fish that they catch there, they are afraid of what they have been eating in the mud hole.

The gas station. We lived 15 miles from town and our gas station was not on the highway, it was inside of the town. It sold gas by the 1/2 gallon at a price that the stations in town were selling for a whole gallon. You guessed it, the cars were lined up for miles to buy gas at that price. It never had any gas sales except to those unfortunate souls that were on “E” and couldn’t possibly make it another 6 miles to another gas station that sold it by the full gallon.

The watertower. This was looking pretty shabby, but one year they gave it a fresh coat of paint. It was coincidentally the same color as the neighboring town’s water town that they had just painted. So nice of them to give us hand me down paint!

Festival of lights. Yes every year at Christmas time, the grain elevator in town would put on a fantastic display of lights – a huge star. Probably had 50 light bulbs in it!

The grain elevator. Let me tell you what, this town was full of activity at harvest time. Farmers lined up all day to sell to the grain elevator. It was the most traffic the streets saw all year. Also was very entertaining to act goofy while all the farmers had no other choice but to sit and watch. ha ha.

The annual ice cream social. This event was huge when I was little. Huge raffle prizes, like TVs, carnival rides, tractor pulls for kids, softball games, it was an all day affair. It has since dwindled in size and attendance, but one thing has not changed, if you live out of town, your chances to win the raffle prize are quadrupled over someone who is a home townie. It never failed. It was a lot of fun when it was a huge event. I remember my cousins would come stay that weekend from a few hours away and we would partake in the activities of the day. That small town event is what makes a tight community.

The post office. Where all the mail comes in from every where. This is also the place where all the good gossip takes place. Want to know who is cheating? Who is getting married? Who is moving in town? Just go to the post office! If you live in a small town, I can pretty much assure you that at least once a week, you hear someone say, “I was at the Post Office the other day and I heard….”

The rock pile. Just as the name implies, it was a HUGE pile of rocks. We had two parks (odd for a town of 250 people, but we did!) but if you gave any kid in town a choice of places to go, they would pick the rock pile. You could “snow ski” down the side of it and climb back up.

Pop Machine. Odd I know, but you just have to know that we went many years without one. It was an exciting day when they put that machine in. It was in a good location, the center of down town. Down town, lol. It did not have Pepsi or Coke, it was stocked with RC cola products. I don’t even think you can buy RC anymore? But, it was pop, it was cold, we bought it and drank it.

And when I wrote the conclusion to my story, I wrote something like this: “Well, I could sit here and write all day about all the attractions of my town, but a cat just got ran over in the road and I have to run out there before the crowd does.” It’s sad, but it is true, it was just about all the excitement that town could take.

But, looking back, it was a close knit community where everyone knew everyone. We didn’t have a house alarm, no need to. My neighbor’s house had the perfect view of the driveway. She was at home every day and she could tell you who stopped by, what they were driving and if they chatted with her a bit. She babysat me many times after school until my mom got home. She always had a bottle of Coca-cola – the glass kind not the 20 oz plastic bottles they have today. We played bingo, dominoes, puzzles, and when it was nice outside, croquet. She was our neighbor the entire time I lived in that house. And for all the times she took care of us, my parents repaid the favor. They checked on her when she was there by herself as she got older, to make sure she was ok. We visited her several times in the nursing home. It was a sad day when she passed away. She was more like family to us than just a neighbor.

Overall, living in a small town really made you use your imagination. We made mud pies, sand cookies, and did goofy things when cars would drive by, like hold up signs that said they were going the wrong way.

When I was a kid, you could ride around town on your bicycle and feel safe about it. There were no cell phones back then. It seems like people paid attention more, they cared more, they socialized with each other more. I don’t know, maybe it is because we didn’t have the technology then that we do now. Now, you can play a DVD movie anytime you want, watch one of 500 channels or play one of many video games. You can even get on your computer and write a blog! We had 3 channels, you missed your show, you just missed it. No recording available. When I got my license and I left home, I was unreachable! My parents had no clue where I was unless I called to tell them. We had paper books that we journaled in, or “blogged”. It was private and usually held sentences like, “I was bored today, Mary couldn’t play.” It seems like the stone ages, but it really was only 30 years ago! How times have changed! We have hand held computers in our hands that also make phone calls. And this same technology that keeps us up to date on the latest news and our friends. However, this technology can also keep us from living life with real, live people. And make us miss things that happen to those beings right in front of our faces, because our faces are buried in the technology.

I don’t live in a small town any longer. And even if I did, I don’t think that it would really be apparent. People today are not as sociable in real life as they once were. Technology has been great at helping us to become more knowledgeable and more productive, but in reality, I think it is stripping away our relationships with other people. Do you live in a small town today? What do you think, am I close to my assessment?