Monday, March 31, 2008

Small town childhood memories

This weekend I went to visit my mom and we spent the afternoon watching the MN State Boys Basketball tournament. In particular, we watched my old hometown--Ellsworth--win their second consecutive state title. That's Ellsworth, MN not Ellsworth, Wisconsin. Not only did the Panthers win the title, their star player, Cody Schilling, became the new state record holder in scoring in boys basketball. I went to grade school with his dad.

Not bad for a town with graduating classes no larger than 30 kids. (To read a nice feature story about Schilling's and mine small home town click here.)

Random information, perhaps. But thinking about Ellsworth conjures up many pleasant memories of my childhood. It's a tiny, tiny town located in extreme SW Minnesota. It really is a Minnesota version of Mayberry. My family moved to the town several years before I was born. The year I was born, 1960, my parents moved the family into a rambler that they had built. Hardwood floors. Huge basement. Even bigger backyard and an empty lot between us and the next house.

My family moved to Ellsworth because my father was the representative for the local power company (Interstate Power). That gained us some notoriety in town, because we were the house everyone called when the power went out. My mom took a lot of stupid calls while my dad was out working in the storm (like how do I heat up my baby's still have hot water, duh).

It was an idyllic childhood. Everyone knew a way that seemed good in my childhood. It was safe to ride my bike anywhere...and for fun on a Friday night, I would ride my bike a mile out of town, cross the state line...just for the thrill of answering the question "where'd you go?" with a simple "Iowa" when I got home. My mom would frequently send me "uptown" to pick up a few things needed for a meal...the grocery store owner knew me, of course (he was a neighbor), and whatever I bought was simply put on credit. Oh, and you always got to pick out a few things from the HUGE penny-candy box.

We left Ellsworth in early 1973 when my dad's health forced him to retire at the ripe old age of 45. We moved to another small town, Eden Valley, to be closer to family. But the ties to Ellsworth remained. My three older siblings graduated from Ellsworth and two of them married high school sweethearts.

A few years ago, Joel and I passed through Ellsworth on a road trip. We went by my old house, which now of course, looks so much smaller.

I love the city, but sometimes I miss that small-town atmosphere. It was a good childhood, riding my bike through the streets of Mayberry...I mean, Ellsworth.

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