This week, my journey through the pages of the Tribune and the Leader enters its fifth year.
During the last four years I have been privileged to meet and write about many ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Daily, opportunities are there to see our city governments hard at work maintaining and improving our lives here. I see folks at the schools educating our young people, preparing them for a better tomorrow. And when I visit with our safety forces, I don’t need to be reminded that our safety is their priority.
And then, of course, are all the festivals, parades, celebrations and events hosted by schools, churches, community organizations, all for good causes and all fun filled for young and old.
My wife Marge, my No. 1 fan and/or critic (depending on the situation) often reminds me that I am fortunate at this point in life to be able to do what I always wanted, but never had the opportunity. How true.
Marge and I have lived here now going on 10 years. And just like all of you, we experience the changes in our hometown, both good and bad. I still love driving through our areas. And I still see horses and cows grazing in pastures, corn in the fields standing tall (belying our “up North” adage of “knee high by the fourth of July”) and hay being bailed after the first cutting. All in all, it’s a pretty nice setting for a Norman Rockwell painting.
And I also see the ever increasing signs. For sale 173 acres here, 102 acres there, with smaller parcels in between, forewarning that brick and mortar will replace trees with concrete parking lots instead of pastures. Its progress, I guess, but there is a certain sadness to that.
But I also marvel at the restoration taking place in our historic downtown areas. And, to be honest, I certainly don’t complain about all the new businesses that have come to town offering much-needed services. And yes, I get excited with every new “Coming Soon” sign.
What we have not lost, and I hope we never will, is that small-town feel. I remember how years ago, former mayor and long-time Anna resident Kenneth Pelham told me, “Sometimes my arm gets tired from waving to everybody.” Well, we now have thousands and thousands of new neighbors, and that’s an awful lot of waving.
One evening, a few years ago, while I was driving home, a young lady in a field was riding a magnificent pinto, black Stetson pulled low, shielding her eyes from the setting sun. And as I slowed down to watch her, she guided the pinto into our local Sonic, looking for a parking spot (or is it hitching post?) A testimonial, at least for now, that the old and the new still coexist.