Small Town

Posted by Backyard Urban Gardening on Sunday, November 15, 2009

From the age of thirteen I’ve always aspired to achieve something great in my lifetime, to make a difference, to get noticed. I suppose my desire to make an impact is rooted in the humbleness of youth. I grew up in a small town in rural Missouri with a population of three hundred people.

I played baseball and backetball with the Lions Club. I wore hand me down clothes and worn out shoes. I had red hair, freckles and wore glasses.

At one time it was a typical farm community, kids grew up and worked along side dad, mom, grandpa and grandma on the family farm. But as farming declined, the biggest employer in town became the school system and after that there wasn’t much you could do, but search for work in larger communities and commute to work.

We lost the family farm to high interest rates, mismanagement and just plain old “circumstances”. At thirteen I didn't understand why, but at forty-three I’m surprised we hung onto it as long as we did. Farming is a rough life, it is dirty work, and it is thankless. It’s a constant struggle to stay one step ahead of the bank, not to mention obstacles including too much drought, too much rain at the wrong times, and “too much month at the end of the money”.

My earliest memories of the town start in kindergarten. I ate oatmeal at the kitchen table before catching the school bus for the 40 minute trip to school. In kindergarten we actually had a sandbox and spent most of the time doing some kind of artwork, napping, or listening to the teacher read us stories. We actually had a sandbox in the classroom and left at noon each day. We played kickball, dodge ball, or tag during recess.

The grade school, junior high and high school shared the same building and the combined grades kindergarten through twelve averaged less than twenty students per grade. It was the kind of town where everyone knew everyone else’s business and if they didn’t know the truth, they just made it up.

In first grade we learned to read and started learning basic historical facts about presidents like Washington and Lincoln. For Thanksgiving we traced our handprints to draw turkeys and made Christmas trees out of felt and construction paper and wrote letters to Santa. I got a Ricochet Racer for Christmas and a Johnny West figurine. We watched cartoons at 4 p.m. every day after school. We started Catechism classes at church. I memorized the 10 commandments and learned the Apostles Creed. On Saturdays I watched Wide World of Sports and started playing Little League.

My second grade teacher was studying to be a paramedic. We learned cursive writing and I won the handwriting award given on the last day of school. We started playing baseball at recess and climbed the jungle gym.

I wanted to learn how to play guitar and become a country music star.

In third grade we learned multiplication tables from Mr. Kellogg who drove a yellow Ford Maverick and spent his spare time inventing children’s games. I had to wear a Dunce Hat for not knowing 6 x 8 was 48. I took swimming lessons and cut my head at the city swimming pool, which required 4 stitches. I burned my feet walking on hot pavement at the hospital. I started having dizzy spells.

In fourth grade, Mrs. Wells had a reward system that allowed us to earn “play money” throughout the year for getting good grades on tests and homework. On the last day of school she held an auction and we purchased items from the “store” with the money we accumulated.

In fifth grade I learned to add and subtract fractions. My favorite television show was Dukes of Hazzard. We rarely wore shoes in the summer and worked in the garden a lot pulling weeds, snapping beans and “hilling” potatoes. I started fishing a lot.

We had three different teachers in sixth grade, one got fired and another had a heart attack.

In seventh grade I started running long distances and learned to play the Tuba. I started mowing lawns for spending money and started lifting weights a lot. We kept a journal in English and I started wearing glasses.

In eighth grade I was voted class president, class candidate for homecoming prince, and we took a class trip to Fort of the Osage one Saturday afternoon and stopped for a picnic at the Eldon City Park on the way back home.

The best thing that ever happened in my life was the day my family moved 120 miles away to a new town, to a new school, and for me...a new life. We packed up a Ryder truck and moved.

I started over.


Anonymous said...

Great post


It is the great American e-novel :)

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