Notes from a small town……

Downtown Lodi Arch
There is something reassuring about community, I am reminded of this every day and especially when I go back to my hometown. Like a small town newspaper column or letters from home we dream of places where we know the people we do business with. Places we can stop in and get a cup of coffee and they will say, “Don’t worry about it, it’s on the house.” You may think these kinds of places are a thing of the past, but I assure you they are not.
In my hometown, things have changed most definitely, but some things have stayed the same……the train whistles blow through town almost every hour or more. I grew up with them and they make me feel nostalgic and comforted at the same time. In a farming community, trains are part of life……they never stop chugging their bounty from the fields and vineyards to places far away….
In local news,  the annual Christmas Parade of lights had 89 entries this year. When we took my niece to the park the day before the event I noticed that people had already marked out their territory with chairs and signs to get premo seats.
 
It was a cold but beautiful evening that night, the sunset was all pinks and violets and the Christmas lights in people’s houses started to blink on. The downtown lamps came on as well at 5 o’clock, ushering in the night.They have been around since I was a kid, their white round bulbs like full moons, peeking through the trees, lining the streets.
Yes, some things are exactly the same…..
My Dad still writes checks to get gas, my Mom knows the checkers at the store personally and one of them will come around with a hug when she sees her in line. One of the local Deli’s, The Butcher Shoppe is owned by dear friends and has hosted early morning Bible studies and employed many friends and neighbors. I stop in there everytime I go back home for their special seasoning, I have people in several states hooked on it.
My Mom still goes to the Post Office to mail letters and goes to the same bank she has gone to forever to get her bank statements. Of course she knows the tellers there too! She even took a stuffed Santa to her cleaners and they cleaned it for her, though they said in their broken english…..”I never cleaned Santa before!” But they did it for her because she brings a lot of business and they appreciate it.
I went to a Memorial where friends gathered, some of whom have known each other 50 years or more. My folks can still see imprints of their grandparents in town. The houses they lived in, the location where the old blacksmith shop was that my grandfather owned, the house my Mom had her first Birthday party at when she was 12 years old, given to her by big sister Esther. She still sees some of those “girls”, now in their eighties in town.
I drove down my Grandmother’s street while I was there. Her old house is for sale now. I stopped and paused in front of it one night. I parked there, remembering….hearing all of our voices from the past. The screen door was open and it bothered me. I thought about going up and closing it, but then I thought that might be closing the door on a past that I wasn’t ready to close….
I passed the High school where my folks went to high school and I did too……I noticed a family friend had put on the marquee, “Happy 80th Birthday Norman.” I thought how cool it was that I knew these people personally. Had been to dinner at their house many times, and mornings at her table for coffee, held a baby shower there for my sister in lawm had fed their cat and dog while they were away. This is community. The blessing of knowing your neighbors.
It is coming back to my folk’s house and seeing a homemade treat waiting on the front porch, made by their neighbor. It is borrowing things, and lending things knowing they will be returned….
There are still many places left in the world like this. It is not perfect or idyllic the way I have made it seem. The German families that once lived on the east side are no longer there, and you wouldn’t want to venture over there after dark, for gangs have moved in during the past 30 years or so. But still, a community remains where people have grown close, protected and looked out for each other in spite of change.

I now live in a place where I know my neighbors here in Arizona too! Yes, it still does happen.

I like to think of the blogging community as an extension of this. We are here for each other. We share our hopes and dreams. We open our hearts to each other. We step across another kind of street, knock on other kinds of doors and say…..”Come on in, we are glad you could join us!”


Jessie’s grove winery cat

Images from Lodiwine.com

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