Last week we had the pleasure of a visit from our nephew Timmy, his wife Jody, and their five children who live in Springville, Indiana. Great family, great kids, although Leslie and I would both admit to being exhausted after having five kids in the house for two very rainy days. Wouldn't trade it for anything. My apologies for not getting pictures of Jody with their three month old baby, Canaan.
In 1982, Marshall was a picture of a dying Southern town. Businesses were closing or moving to the Bypass and there hadn't been a new business in town for many years. The Mayor at the time was Betty Wild, a newcomer from Michigan who had been here for years and had been active in the community. The young people in town had little to do so, in an effort to help, Ms. Wild opened a game room in what is now the Flow Building on Main Street.
Can anyone help me out with the names of these young men who are now 36 years older?
UNCLE SAM WANTS YOU TO. . .
HEAD TO THE HILLS WITH HIM
"Folks, things is bad and getting worse." He was heard to say.
"We best lay low for a time and gather our strength."
Frozen time and again.
Pissed on by dog and man.
Looking like nothing you'd want in your yard.
But patiently waiting for spring and
a return to its former glory.
“Blessed” is not a word I often use, the religious connotation is too strong for me. That said, I am extra blessed by the people around me and the place we all share. I live in a community where I feel supported and loved and encouraged. I’m surrounded by a landscape that offers both solace and challenge, raw beauty and man’s imprint, a contrast that only enriches our experience. I am a fortunate 70-year old man.
Saturday night, I was surprised by a birthday party on the Island in Marshall. I was totally oblivious to the months of planning and truly shocked when I walked through the door. After catching my breath and bearings, I was immediately struck by the diversity of people in the room. People I have known for my full forty-four years in the county, the older newcomers and locals, and many young people I’ve met in the last ten years who are the future of our county. It was a wonderful and heartening mix.
I can only say thank you to everyone who came out on the coldest night of our recent record-breaking cold spell, risking freezing pipes and cold houses. My only regret was not being able to speak with everyone, but please know I did see everyone and love that you were there.
There are people in my life who I couldn’t manage without. They put this party together – Leslie, Kate and Justin, Paul and Laurie, Joe and Janet, my brother Mark and his wife Marisa who traveled from Maryland, and their daughter Lily and her partner Joe (who win the prize for traveling the farthest, Philadelphia.) Newer friend Ricky Pumphrey, and one of my oldest and dearest friends, John Rountree. Thank you.
I’ve been saying that 70 got my attention in a way that 60 or 50 didn’t. I don’t feel differently than I did two weeks ago at age 69 and during the party people kept telling me how good I look for my age. But with the average life expectancy for white men in our country at 76 years, the reality is I’m officially old. 2018 marks my 45th year in Madison County, almost 65% of my life in this very special place. My deep and heartfelt thanks to all of you who have made my life the incredible journey it has been.
When I meet new people I usually get around to asking them how they got here. What was the route they took with their life that brought them from wherever, California, Georgia, the upper Midwest, to here, Madison County? I get a variety of answers mostly having to do with getting out of the rat race, wanting something smaller and slower, or perhaps to be closer to children who have settled here. Legitimate reasons all.
My great-grandparents, Caterina and Vincenzo, had three children in the small Sicilian village of Lentini. Their two sons, Giuseppe and Carlo, left as teenagers for the United States and never returned to Sicily and never saw their family again. Their daughter stayed behind to care for the elders, which is the Italian way.
I think about this kind of stuff a lot, probably more often than I should readily admit. But I'm taken with our goings and comings, as individuals and as cultures. It's not something new to humans, we've always moved and migrated to lands new to us. Places we liked better. Or places with more opportunities. Or places, as Nilsson said, "where the weather suits your clothes." I understand the motivation. It's what brought me here, the desire to be in a place I perceived to be better than where I grew up, or anywhere else for that matter.
Yet I also wonder about those left behind. Caterina and Vincenzo without their sons, my parents when their children left home, and perhaps us, as our children look to new places. We are a fortunate people with our ability to choose. It isn't the case for most people.
If you haven't had the opportunity to stop at the old jail in Marshall and participate in the brick project, you should do so. This amazing community art project is all about memory, both community memory, as well as, personal memory. Have your thoughts, your ideas, your likes and desires memorialized on the walls of the renovated jailhouse. This is a great idea from Madison residents Josh Copus and Emily Patrick and I urge everyone to come out, make a brick, say what's on your mind.
Go to https://communitybrick.org/ for scheduling.
What could be better than seeing young people commit to our community and to each other. In these trying times it gives one hope that all will be okay in the world.