Friday, October 25, 2013

Small Town News #3

 I'm wondering if anyone else in our area caught the latest typo in the recent newspaper:

     I have wanted to ask for an editing job of this particular newspaper many times, but I would greatly miss the once-in-awhile laugh I get from their many mistakes. 'Hope this brightened your'll get that in a small town!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Small Town Festivals

     Every small town has at least one.  That special time of the year when the town celebrates its uniqueness by highlighting some product or hobby that is prevalent in the area.  It is a great opportunity to attract other folks from other communities to your  neck of the woods. 
     A small town festival is made up of many different facets, and each town has it's own special way of celebrating and attracting out of town tourists.  There is usually a theme, whether The Corn Festival, Strawberry Festival, Bluegrass Festival, Watermelon Festival or, as in our town, The Mule Festival.  Each town has their own special area that is their line of expertise.  There is always food of all sorts.  Maybe the Catholic ladies set up a tent to serve meatloaf or home-made beef and noodles, the Lions serve their famous homemade ice cream and the local boy scouts have a lemon-shake-ups stand.  Private vendors also attend hoping to tempt your taste buds with Kettle corn, Funnel cakes, corn dogs and anything else they can batter and  fry up for you.
     Most towns have some sort of a parade through town.  It's always a chance to show off your fancy truck or tractor, or get your business name out there.  Often there are car shows, dog shows, tractor shows, engine shows, baby shows, and any other item you may own and want to show off to try and win the prize.  I honestly never understood the baby shows.  Dress up your little one so people can come by and judge which baby is the prettiest. And, what happens if you don't win?  Sorry, babycakes, you weren't the prettiest?  Hmmm.
     Of course, there are always contests.  We country folk love to compete.  We can haul in our livestock so people can judge whose is the heaviest, and the strongest, and the best looking.  We can haul in our baked and canned goods for people to judge which is the tastiest.  We can haul in our old junk cars and drive them around an arena with a bunch of other junk cars trying to hit each other and see whose will last the longest (which, by the way, is known as a demolition derby).  We can haul in our souped up tractors and pickup trucks and see whose can pull the greatest weight. There are plenty of ways to compete in the country!
   I was recently perusing our local "Shopper" newspaper.  It was crammed full of ads for festivals, since this is the time of year that we celebrate the nearing of school and the end of another farming season.  One particular ad caught my eye:
     Seriously?  Just seeing that headline conjures up some disturbing images and some rather unusual questions, like,"Do they provide gloves?" "Does chicken poop make the game somehow more enjoyable?" "Fun for all ages?" Sorry I don't think toddlers should participate. Sometimes I think we country folk try too hard to be rednecks and come up with stunts like this.  Maybe next year I'll see an ad for The Chicken Poop Festival.....but you'll get that in a small town.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

She's a gettin' old.........

     Our family vehicle reached a milestone this month.....literally.  The odometer turned over 300,000 miles.  We have been watching the miles go by for several years, counting up to this number.  For some reason this number seems to be the magic number in terms of vehicle age.  Does this mean she has reached full maturity?  Or maybe this means she is officially ready for the automobile nursing home. According to the mileage, we are already on our way back from our trip to the moon. We hope there is a prize for reaching this number, maybe Chevy will send us a new one in exchange for letting them put this one in their museum.

     I got to thinking about all the memories we have that include this vehicle.  We bought her when she was only half this age.  She was all shiny and new looking.  She was the newest vehicle we had ever purchased.  We were excited that she had A/C and cruise control--and that both worked at the same time!
     This old girl has been with us through thick and thin.  We've had many an adventure together. Some happy, like family vacations and excursions here and there.  Her worn out carpet has spots of melted crayons and coffee stains, and blemishes from spilled soda.  A lot of her many miles were spent in the happy company of kids singing and playing as we traveled on our merry way whether visiting family, taking a vacation or a field trip. We also spent many a mile discovering new roads and trails in our neck of the woods. There were also many miles that were not so happy. Soon after we got her we started making multiple trips to a doctor a few hours away due to complications with a pregnancy.  If you could use a black light to find tear stains, I 'm sure it would illuminate many such spots as we journeyed, waiting for answers, wondering, hoping, praying.  And then, the journey home after our little 8 day-old daughter passed away.  There were also trips to the emergency room for injuries and accidents.
     In all of these miles, she has left us stranded only a very few times. On one particular trip to the big city, a bearing went out and we spent 5 hours at an exit (thankfully there was a Dairy Queen and a Walmart there!) waiting for a trailer so we could haul her home. We've gotten used to some of her quirks, like the windshield wipers turning off and on when she decides!  Every once in awhile, we have to tighten the battery cables, but all in all, she runs great!
     We've added a few after market accessories to her.  We broke a tail light on one of our other trucks ( identical to this vehicle).  After searching for a replacement, we found we could buy a set of cool "urban" style ones for a third of the price of one new replacement one. So we souped up our family vehicle just for fun!
     Other accessories that she has gained since we bought her were the snowplow attachment and the bumper sticker.  She became the back-up vehicle when my husband was plowing last winter.  Old trucks often break down and so we needed her to step up and take the place of another plow.  Probably after 24 hours of plowing snow, radio blaring, windows down, forward, reverse, forward, reverse....she was ready to rest! As for the bumper sticker, my husband found this one and couldn't resist.

     We have had our nicknames for her through the years.  "Suburban" is a huge mouthful for youngsters, so at one time our little boy called it the "booban".  It is still quite a mouthful when you are hollering at four children to "go get in the suburban", so at times we just call her the "sub" or "burb" or just the "car". When she seems a bit sluggish, the kids have heard me say "C'mon Bessie", though we never gave her an official moniker.
     When something breaks down in the future, which no doubt at her advanced age will happen, we won't replace her, we'll just replace the broken part.  My husband keeps the local auto parts store in business with our fleet of old vehicles and he is a master mechanic, able to fix anything that breaks!
     It's rather unusual for such a lengthy blog to be written about one's vehicle, but this is redneck country, and we country folks keep our trucks for long enough that we become quite attached to them.  So, here goes:  Blogs are written by fools like me, but only Chevy will make it to 3 .......
hundred thousand that is............but you'll get that in a small town!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Country Kindness

 We heard the usual approaching sound of vehicles on the front street,
but suddenly we heard the screech of brakes...........
car doors slamming........
excited voices. 
 We anticipated the wail of sirens, but it never came. 
 Upon closer inspection we saw what all the excitement was about:
A turtle in the road was trying to reach the other side.
Both lanes of traffic were stopped as the drivers got out of their cars to move the unsuspecting creature out of danger.
  Country don't just find it anywhere
.......but you'll get that in a small town!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Bird in the Trailer is Worth........?

     My husband owns his own business which involves traveling all over the countryside bidding and contracting work at people's homes.  He has seen and heard it all!  Some of my best stories for this blog have come from experiences that he has had in dealing with rural people.
     He often has to deal with rural animals.  Most country dwellers have some kind of animal on their property.  He is usually greeted by some kind of guard dog and often has to wait for the owner to arrive and call off the attacker.  At one job, there was a dog that incessantly stole pieces of aluminum from his trailer and then would attempt to eat it.  The owner was right there and after several episodes of extracting slimy pieces of aluminum from the choking dog's throat, he finally took the animal inside. 

     My husband was also working on a barn a few years ago.  It was a rather large a field....with some cows.....and a bull.   He and his employee kept as quiet as possible, and as high off the ground as they could while they worked.  Every once in a while they would hear it pawing the ground or snorting very loudly.  I think they broke the seamless gutter install speed record that day.

    This week they experienced a new animal work hazard. They had stopped first thing in the morning to bid on a job in a rural area.  After bidding the first job, they shut up the trailer and headed to the next job about 30 miles away.  They arrived, greeted the owner of the house (and his dog) and opened up the trailer and proceeded to set up their tools.  They suddenly heard the owner shouting, "CHICKEN!!  GET IT OR SHE'LL KILL IT!!!"  They looked up to see a chicken flapping around the yard being chased by the home owner's dog, who was being chased by the frantic homeowner.

     Of course, the dog caught the chicken.  The homeowner was incredulous. No one in his neighborhood owned chickens. My husband quickly assured him that he did not keep chickens either.  After speculating, they remembered that there had been chickens at the house they bid that morning.  Obviously, a curious hen saw the open trailer with many nice spots to roost in out of the weather and made herself right at home.  She then proceeded to travel about 30 miles in the pitch dark, then, when she saw daylight again, headed out of the trailer, only to meet her fate. 
    We unfortunately had to change the sign on the trailer that read: "4,547 days without a work related casualty"...............but you'll get that in a small town.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Amish Antics #2

     Does the auto parts store sell buggy parts??? 
Just wondering....but you'll get that in a small town.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Small Town News #2

I've heard some mighty tall fish tales in my lifetime.......but you'll get that in a small town!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Redneck Anniversary Trip

     My husband and I  just celebrated our 13th anniversary.  We took an overnight trip to a big city to visit an attraction we had been wanting to see for a long time. So, where do rednecks go for anniversary trips?  Here's a hint:
     Yeah, we made the long journey to the big city of Moline, Illinois to check out the headquarters of our favorite brand of tractors.  Now, it was not quite what we expected.  Our first glimpse of their beautiful grounds gave us the first inclination that we weren't in Kansas anymore!
  The pristinely manicured lawns, the fabulous architecture and the absence of mud, overalls, and mucking boots told us that we had reached John Deere heaven.
     As we entered the building, it was absolutely silent.  My husband inhaled and savored the scent of new rubber.  A gleam in his eye told me that I had chosen well.  He was thrilled to tread on this sacred ground. 
    We were free to browse as we wanted.  Each cab was opened and you could sit in them and dream. 
     The view from the driver's seat!
     One half of the room was dedicated to agricultural vehicles, the other to construction vehicles.

My husband had to check out this road grader after seeing how tiny the steering wheel was.
We are thinking about upgrading our family vehicle!
 Reading the information about this particular mower blew my mind. 
 It said that this was the 5 millionth tractor to roll off the assembly line!!! Amazing!!!
Well, I guess we can mark this one off our "bucket" list!
    Honestly, this was one of the nicest places we have ever visited. We are making plans to return with our kids soon.  We love the simple things in life...........but you'll get that in a small town!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Amish Antics

     If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that we live in an area that has an Amish settlement.  We  often see their buggies going through town; we wonder about the ones we hear in the middle of the night.  We also often laugh at the paradoxes that they exhibit in their quest for a simpler life. I saw a buggy headed down the street today. I didn't think anything about it, until I looked closer.
     To understand the irony of this picture, you have to understand the prejudices that are prevalent in a rural area.  There is always the perpetual argument and fight for dominance among the green tractor owners and the red tractor owners. You have to stand up for the brand that you think is the most reliable, has the most power and looks the best in the field.  Even among the pickup truck owners, there is the argument for or against the bow tie or the blue oval.  You have to be loyal to one or the other, there is no middle ground.
   As I saw this buggy pass today, I saw evidence that the argument even exists among those who don't even own vehicles:

     Can you see it?  Right there in the center:

     I'm pretty sure that Ford hasn't included a line of buggies in their 2014 production line, so the owner must have stuck it on there himself.  Knowing the drive of the Amish to remain morally upright, I doubt that the emblem was stolen, but I do wonder if they bought it somewhere.  I have seen the Amish making unusual purchases before, I think I would laugh if I saw one of them buying an emblem for a pickup truck.  Yet, they seek approval and by siding with one of the arguments among rural residents, they feel a part of the crowd.   Those of us who know that the blue oval is behind the times now have proof..................but you'll get that in a small town.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Country Welcome

   Can you see it?  That sign that makes young and old alike feel welcome? 
Better duck, he's probably already got his rifle ready...........but you'll get that in a small town!

Friday, April 12, 2013

It's Official

     We have officially declared the arrival of spring in our neck of the woods.  However, we don't look for the usual signs of spring.  We know that when we see a robin, it only means that the little critters have made the trek back home.  We saw robins months ago, and consequently, they had to trudge around in the snow like the rest of us.
     My dad used to tell us that when you first smell a skunk, that is the first sign that spring has arrived, but I saw one (and smelled it) along the highway awhile ago, and it sure didn't feel like spring outside.  In fact, we had another foot of snow a week later.
     I used to think that when I heard thunder from a storm, then, that was the sure sign that spring had arrived. Well, we had something very unusual this year, thunder snow.  Weird..........and very deceiving.
     We heard the reports from the far away country of Punxsutawney that spring was supposed to arrive early this year.  Yeah, we wanted to skin us some groundhog, too.
      No, I saw it just the other day. The first, real, sure sign that spring has arrived:

     Yep, it's official! Spring has arrived. It has finally become warm enough that the tractors have been pulled out of the sheds, the farmers have emerged from their hibernation and the fields are buzzing with activity.


     Can you smell it? Inhale deeply and drink in that fresh scent of newly turned up soil mingled with the essence of diesel and anhydrous ammonia.  If you bottled it, you could probably sell it and call it "eau d' tractor".  Ahhh, spring has officially arrived...........but you'll get that  in a small town.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Small Town History

     I love history.  Seeing artifacts from another era and hearing the stories behind them is one of my favorite pastimes.  Being able to hold something that was significant to someone 100 years ago and wonder how it affected their life is such a joy to me.  So, when  my husband and I were remodeling our 100+ year old home and found some artifacts in the wall, we were excited.
     One of my favorite items is this book.  It was perfectly preserved in the wall.  It amazes me that it is almost 100 years old.

     I love to look through it and peruse the pictures.  It is so fascinating to see what things were like back in those days.

       It's neat to think that this tiny town was once considered a booming metropolis, big enough to have a high school where students could come and stay in dorms. In the opening pages of the bulletin, Kahoka is described as: "..a population of more than 1800 people...  'Queen of the prairie'...graced by an unusual number of prosperous business enterprises....such as the Missouri Condensed Milk Co.......".   Wow, that's about what the population is now!  I have heard that our little town even had a piano factory at one time!

   The school held all grade levels through high school.  The lists of alumni show approximately 8-10 graduates each year.  They list such activities and classes as: Rhetoric, Ancient history, Algebra, Biology, Latin, German, Bookkeeping, and of course, Agriculture.  They also list supplies each student needed for each grade, such items as pencils, paper, certain textbooks, and most importantly, one drinking cup.

     They even had an athletics program. This is a picture of their basketball team.  My, how times have changed!!

     Our small town is rich in history. There is one lady in our town who is the queen of Kahoka when it comes to its history. She has dedicated her time to collecting artifacts and data about the history of our little town.  She owns a store front on the square and changes the window display often to show the many antiques, vintage clothing and memorabilia she has.

      I was driving through a neighboring town recently and saw this:

      Such a tiny little building.  What could it possibly house?

Such a tiny little building, smaller than most bathrooms today, but just enough room to show the artifacts and memories of a people who love their town.  The building is sufficient for the memorabilia, but way too small to hold the town's pride...............but you'll get that in a small town.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Country Parson

     The local parson, you know, the guy that does the "marryin' and buryin'" in your neck of the woods. But, that occupation involves so much more than those two activities.  He is the shepherd of the sheep, and even though his flock may be small, he tends them with love and care.

     Well, it just so happens that I grew up in the home of a small town parson.  I have many fond memories of life in a parson's home. My siblings and I never felt like the "fishbowl" family, though we knew that people were expecting more of us, just because we were the preacher's kids. We loved each and every congregation of which we were privileged to be a part.

       Being the parson has some distinct perks.  Of course, there is the parsonage: appropriately named to house the parson and his family.  I believe that this is one of the few occupations where the employer also provides the housing for the employed.  And provide, they do: whether a trailer parked out in the middle of a forest, or the "Old Manse" connected to the actual church building and readily accessible to the church members, or the old fire-trap that sat next to the church. I have lived in many such parsonages.  My dad became an expert at making an old house look really nice with paint and wallpaper.  The church congregation always made sure the house was in order when the new parson arrived.  They would stock the pantry with cans of food to help welcome the family. I can remember a particular can of bamboo shoots that stayed in the pantry for the duration of our tenure, and we kindly left it for the next parson and his family. The church always felt like the parsonage belonged to them (and rightly so) and we always asked permission before making any changes on the house, or requested help when something needed repaired.

    Because the congregations that we were privileged to minister to were small, the members became like family to us.  I can name off the top of my head several sets of "adopted grandparents" who endeared themselves to our family and helped us to look forward to every Sunday.  Whether it was being taken out to eat almost every Sunday, or sneaking us candy and cookies behind our mom's back during church, they made themselves a part of our lives.  Of course, with any family, you get to know one another very well.  When one person is missing, there is a hole.  You are not just a face in the crowd in this congregation, but an integral part of the service.  When one member is hurting, we all hurt along with them.  We are a family of brothers and sisters.
     And along with the family atmosphere, there can also be squabbles.  Churches are steeped in their traditions, and when a new pastor comes along and wants to change something, there is often opposition.  At one point in my dad's ministry, he was called a "young whippersnapper" by one of the board members, no doubt because he suggested something new.  I can also remember a particular church secretary who would lock up the chalkboard chalk in the safe after Sunday School so we youngsters couldn't draw after church. There were aunts and uncles, and cousins, not really related to us, but closer than family could ever be.

     The country parson can become an important part in the lives of those in the community.  He is often the first one you call in case of emergency, and he even makes house calls.  I recall in particular two elderly, widowed sisters who lived together in one small town.   I was about 5 at the time, and I can remember being amazed when we would visit "Fran and Margaret" as they affectionately were called. Their house was immaculate, there were doilies pinned to the couch arms and backs. They wore gloves and hats to church on Sunday. They had the most amazing tulips I have ever seen.  One memory that I have of them was a phone call that came in the middle of the night.  A drunk had driven his car into their front parlor.  The pastor was the only one they knew to call and so he went right over to comfort and help calm them. It was a major upset to their calm life, but the pastor was there in time of need. There is no doubt in my mind that they are in heaven now, pinning doilies to the couches and tending tulip beds.

     The parson is also a member of the community in other areas as well.  We have a picture of my dad placing the star on top of the community Christmas tree.  We were part of many community functions and stood up for our little town in whatever ways we could.  My dad was also a volunteer fire-fighter.  However, this was back in the days when there were  no cell phones or pagers. The only way to get the attention of the fire fighters was to ring the siren and they would come running.  I recall one Sunday morning, right in the middle of a sermon, the fire siren went off.  As many men stood to leave, my dad quipped, "I guess I'll have to miss this one."     He still had to finish fighting that fire ...............but you'll get that in a small town.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Morning Commute


     Morning commute, the above picture is most likely what comes to mind for most city dwellers.  A few weeks back I ran some errands early in the morning and wanted to share what a typical morning commute in our area involves.
As we headed out of town we encountered  a country traffic jam, better know as a cold grain truck that couldn't get up to speed up a slight incline.  Country traffic jams usually involve one or more farm vehicles holding up the general populace.  With several hills in the area, the line of aggravated drivers often gets quite long between passing zones.

     'Bet you don't see one of these warnings very often in the city.  And, sure enough, soon after we saw this sign, we encountered this:

Of course, we had to wait for a passing zone to get around him.  Is that "sharing" the road?  Maybe there should be sign that shows a car stating "Share the road."
 I love country roads.  Notice the hoof prints in the center of the road.
    I love old cars, too.  No doubt we will see this one someday in the Old Settler's Day parade.....or all souped up and entered in the demolition derby!
I've always admired this old stone grain bin. I'm glad no one has torn it down
 It has become somewhat of a fad for people to hang or paint a giant quilt block on their barn.  I'm not sure how it got started, but it is a neat reminder of the old fashioned way.
My fellow traveller for the morning.  She came along so we could legally drive in the commuter lane.
Her happy demeanor also makes the trip seem less like a chore........but you'll get that in a small town.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

GPS and Rural Roads

      We own a wonderful invention lovingly referred to as our GPS.  It is a great little machine that allows we country folk to head to the big city and feel like we can find our way around.  However, using one in a rural area can be a little tricky.  If you have never seen the above warning on your GPS, then let me illuminate you.
     Of course, some of the problem may be that living the rural way of life means that we are cheap-skates and don't want to update our GPS.  Especially since the update costs more than the little machine cost in the first place. As a result, I think our GPS must go into panic mode sometimes. There is a new bridge in our area and every time we cross it, the GPS screen makes it look like we are swimming the English channel.  I can imagine that suave, British accent screaming out: "Turn around when possible, you are about to drown!"
     I don't know if the man of your house is anything like mine, but according to him, the GPS is never wrong.  A couple of years ago, when our GPS was brand new, we were travelling far from home sweet home one night. We were all exhausted. We had been travelling all day, looking forward to a stay in a hotel along our way.  We kept seeing  signs for hotels, but just felt the urge to keep going a little further. The head of household typed in "hotel" into the GPS and it navigated us to the nearest one. We got off the exit and there was a beautiful Holiday Inn all lit up and welcoming.  However, the GPS was leading us into the nearby small town.  So, of course, we had to follow the voice on the screen, instead of our instincts.  Our instincts were right.
     We like to keep our GPS set on the "Shortest route" setting. That means we often get to travel the scenic route.  Here is an example of one such time. I had to take some supplies to my hard working man while he was on a job somewhere out in the country.He gave me the address and I typed it into the GPS.  We had no trouble finding him and gave him the supplies.  I decided to head over to a nearby rural village to pick up some things at the Mennonite bulk store.  So, I typed in the  name of the town and we took off.  We drove along for awhile, enjoying the scenery, obeying the commands of the beautiful British voice.  At one point, I hear, "turn left" and was suddenly grateful for 4-wheel drive.  This was similar to the trail we ended up on.  Of course, the screen made it look like a four-lane highway.
     Our next turn brought us to a cow pasture.  We received an unusual stare from the man in the feed truck, but smiled and gave him "the wave" as we passed.  I'm sure that my mobile billboard emblazoned with "S & D Seamless Gutters" gave him all the explanation he needed. After leaving the cow pasture, we were relieved to be back on an actual gravel road and started to relax and enjoy the scenery again.  As we came up over a hill, the GPS showed that we were to continue in a straight path, but this is what we saw:
     I had to turn around.  I kept hearing "Turn around when possible" and the arrow on the screen kept pointing straight ahead, but I wasn't going to follow.  We eventually found a recalculated route that seemed to satisfy the "voice" and made it to where we were headed.
     I don't know how a GPS is programmed or how they choose what roads to include, but obviously the programmer never travelled this way before!  I guess next time I may have to employ the old fashioned GPS: stop and ask for directions... but you'll get that in a small town.