It was just about this time in 1998 that I was asked to make one of the biggest decisions I would probably make in my lifetime. The results and repercussions would very possibly be remembered by many, regardless of good or bad. The lives that would be affected, well, the young lives were honestly my only worry. But I was told I had about two weeks to decide. Who in the world could make a decision of that gigantic proportion in just two weeks? That person would of course turn out to be me.
I believe, this place, this little town, this county, raised my two children as much as I did. With its slow, lazy backroads that go on for days, its fields of grass, tomatoes, and homegrown vegetables, filled with cows, horses and goats; it would take us to a place we had never been exposed to before, and slow US down in a manner that we all needed.
The many ponds and lakes would bring fishing poles and smiles to little boy faces, the wide open spaces to ride bikes and go carts with no fear of fast-moving cars or concrete burns. The safety of camping out in backyards all night long, just a holler and a window away from my ear in the house. Birthday parties held on family farms that would bring a whole new meaning to the game hide and seek.
The opportunity to live and grow-up in such a tight knit community would at first feel very restricted and lonely. I have learned, these type of communities are that way for a reason. They like their security, their comfort, and any outside sources coming in who may cause them reason to feel fear of being disturbed or harmed is not welcome. There’s actually a kind of initiation of acceptance if you will; we must have passed with flying colors, because we’re still here, and now we, are one of the many who look at “strangers” with wary eyes and initial discomfort.
There is very little crime here in our little town and it is dealt with swiftly and competently. Many in the more rural areas of our county still leave their doors unlocked and the houses unattended with nary a worry in the world. We actually live in the city limits now, and although leaving doors unlocked has never been and never will be an option for me, I can honestly say, our little neighborhood looks out for one another and the honor system seems to work just fine here.
Front porch sitting is real, corn fritters and pots of lima beans and sausage over a backyard fire really happens, horse shows and livestock sales and farm equipment auctions on Saturday mornings with a real auctioneer like Mr. Cal Cooksey are real, and addressing every grown-up with a Mr. or Mrs. accompanied by their first name; all of these things are normal everyday life here. I’ll always know It’s the best place I could have brought young boys to learn to be young men.