Another Day in Small Town America

A trip to town, only about 7 miles on a good highway. A bit hilly with the usual landmarks seen and spoken of a lot. Around the lake just over the hill from the farm, the small village out on the ice, fishing for panfish. Dozens of trucks and fishing shacks (wimps, we just sat on upside down white buckets ‘back in the days) No tip ups seen from this distance of over ¼ mile. Up the hill and there’s the old brick church with red crosses on the doors and a beautiful brick chimney for the coal furnace. Stoked in the past by Walter Wilson every Sunday morning. Good worker and farmer.

Onward past the old auto yard of Nelson Motors which was the home of Doctor X, wrestler extraordinaire on TV. It was pro wrestling back in the days of cathode ray tubes and rabbit ears. The Crusher was a big draw too.

Jack’s dad watched every Sunday while the family went off to the ‘Mother Church’ downtown. Jack would have liked to stay with Dad but most likely the cigar would not be shared. It was alone time for Dad, everyone needs it now and then. Jack’s dad made a mean pot of Chow Mein then which was waiting for our return. With noodles.

Memories flood Jack as he drives the twisty highway now past the old resort where he and his Dad rented a boat for their last fishing expedition at the mouth of the local river. The resort is gone and so is Dad, but the memory is clear even with color. Up the hill now, passing the old schoolhouse which was a pretty swell antique store at one time. Around the corner where a memorial used to stand by the ditch where a exchange student from Russia was killed in a rollover accident. His hockey stick which leaned on the cross was still there. Jack weeps internally every time to town and back at the loss and the thoughts of the kid’s parents back in the old country.

There are many road markers for Jack, Einer’s mountain (long climb for a bicycle) the Amish farms and town. You can make it all the way to the post office if you put it in neutral at the top of the hill. A few errands are done and the snow and ice and drifts are a challenge to get to the library. Suddenly, a lone maple leaf blows by in the snowy ditch. Jack picked it up as a sign or signal of some sort. Maybe spring is coming soon? A visit with Jack’s old friend at the newspaper publishing building and his friend, the editor, gives Jack 15 bucks to pick up some strawberry/rhubarb pie mix in the bigger town down a ways. Jack meets someone new by the library and a conversation ensues about the man’s forefathers coming over in the 1600’s from England. They meet at an older building that Jack’s family had a prayer room in. Drum cage, singer mics, Jack’s instruments and a keyboard. The Gator’s worshiped Jesus with songs and sung prayers a few times a week. There was even good WiFi from the bar next door, right through the brick walls and with permission and the password. Four years of memories there. Now it’s a second hand store and the scroll work scripture is gone too. It’s an average short trip to town in many ways and it’s time to head back home.

It’s slushy and cold and the recent snow fall has made the roads slick here and there. Jack’s newer car has automatic stability control and antilock brakes to go with it. A few jiggles on the curves and it’s home to check the mailbox at the end of the 1/8th mile driveway. Oops, the wind turned it 90 degrees (or was it the plow?) No mail today. Many trips to towns nearby and the roads not traveled 30 miles away do not hold quite as much nostalgia. Turn up the worship music on the CD player and sing along sometimes. Today Jack was trying to sing acapella the Patsy Cline song ‘Crazy’ he loves the octave jump back at the first line. Doesn’t everyone have days like this? If you share them, people either think you fit the Patsy Cline song name or they share their road with you. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

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