Monday, January 16, 2012

Cherished Roots

My brother and I talked on the phone early one morning recently. As often happens, our conversation was sprinkled with news of what was happening in the small town where we were raised--the church, who has passed away, the weather. I smiled at how much we sounded like our parents and grandparents. I shared with him my recent thoughts about the history of Nortonville. It is the setting for two of my children's novels, even though the name of the town has been changed to protect the innocent. :-)
Our world revolved around that small patch of earth called Nortonville--0.43 square miles according to Wikipedia. You can stand in the parking lot of the Christian Church, built on a small rise on the southern edge of town, and see practically all 0.43 square miles. The cemetery on the south west side is reminiscent of the play, Our Town, where the residents sit on their tombstones and discuss life and death.
In college, I wrote a speech for a class about the advantages of my home town. I suggested that a small town has much to offer--no stop lights to go out in a power failure and back up traffic, no factories to polite the air. I don't remember the rest of the speech but I can close my eyes and picture every street in town.
My sister and I either walked or rode bikes on every one of those tree shaded streets. We safely knocked on houses to collect for the American Cancer Society, Easter Seals, the American Heart Association, and anything else Momma could find to keep us involved while she worked at our feed store. We even stood on Main Street and sold those little paper poppies every year for the veterans.
I am grateful to the grownups of my youth who recognized me on the street, tattled to my parents when I wasn't where I was supposed to be, and who came to my family's aide when a financial crisis threatened to destroy us.
You can go to Google Maps and find Nortonville, Kansas, on the north edge of Jefferson County. You can zoom in to look at the crooked streets that run northeast along the old Atchison, Topeka, and SanteFe Railroad.

You can even click on the area to see street views of Main Street and the roof of my parents' feed store next to the old theater that always fascinated me. But the pictures seem lifeless because there are no people shown.
The people of Nortonville, past and present, are who make it a great little town to call home--a place to cherish.

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