Monday, July 2, 2007

A Small Town

Something good came out of a horrific tragedy this past spring. On April 16, 2007, a gunman went on a shooting rampage at Virginia Tech University, in which 33 people were killed. What a sad, SAD occurrence. As a parent I can't imagine what the families of each and every student who attends the university was going through. We all prayed for the victims and their families and continue to do so.

But as I said, something good came from this massacre.

Many years ago, in a previous life, I was very fortunate to be selected by our local American Legion Auxiliary to represent our high school at Buckeye Girls State. This is a week long experience in which girls who have just finished their junior year in high school get together and are divided into cities, and elect their own government officials from city mayor to an actual governor. The week is filled with activities and learning experiences like no other. Being thrown together with people you've never met before can be a daunting experience, but most of us did pretty well. I became friends with a girl in the same "city" as I was (Sullivant City...this actually meant that we all lived on the same floor of a dorm). "T" was from a small town in the county to the south of mine. Anyway, "T" and I became friends and stayed in contact for a while after leaving Girls State, but as often happens, life sort of gets in the way, and relationships can fall to the wayside.

This past April, when our local newspaper was full of reports about the Virginia Tech incident, a local reporter interviewed a parent of a VA Tech student who was NOT injured in the tragedy. He knew this parent personally, and when I read the article in the paper, I saw that the parent was ..... "T"! I mentioned this to one of the teachers I share a room with (as we always begin our day by reading the local newspaper online), and said that I had to figure out a way to get in touch with her. From the article I learned where she lived, what she did for a living, and that she had at least one child. In my free time at work, I began researching her, and it wasn't easy. I suppose that I could have done it very simply by calling the newspaper and speaking to the man who wrote the article, and since I know this man also, it wouldn't have been a problem, I'm sure. HOWEVER, I'm a little stubborn at times and just knew that I could do it myself.


We've exchanged a few emails and she just let me know that she will be coming to Ohio next month and we'll hopefully get to see each other.

(Yes, this is all going somewhere, so just relax.)

The town that "T" is from is pretty small. The 2005 population estimate is 352, yes, that's three hundred fifty two.

There is one main road going through the town.

How do I know this, you might ask?

Back in the mid 1980s, I went with my mom and dad to a cousin's funeral in Pennsylvania. We went there, attended the funeral, spent some time with the family, then left for our 2 hour trip home. Once we got out of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, dad decided to take a "back" way home. He was familiar with the roads of eastern Ohio, so Mom and I just sat back and relaxed.

My dad has not always been the patient man that he is now.


We approach the town that "T" is from and I mentioned it to my parents. "Remember my friend "T" from Girls State? This is her home town coming up."

We rounded a curve and right there was the quaint, little, quiet community.

To paraphrase Paul Harvey, "and now for the rest of the story."

This darling little town was having a celebration, like most small towns do. Pioneer Days, Railroad Festival, Moonshine Festival, River Days, Pumpkin Show, etc....typical reasons to have contests, food booths, a queen, and of course....


We turned that corner and got right behind the parade. There were no side streets to go down. There was no way to pass the entire parade. My mother burst out into laughter, and my cackles weren't far behind. My dad, however didn't find the situation amusing. He mentioned a few choice words, and that just made my mom and I laugh even more.

Being that he had done the parade thing before (when he was running for county sheriff), he was somewhat familiar with the whole process. I told him to turn off the air conditioning, roll down the windows, and just wave at everyone sitting out on their porches.

My mom told him to relax and enjoy it because there wasn't A THING HE COULD DO ABOUT IT. It just wasn't worth getting his blood pressure going sky high.

He mentioned a few more choice words.

Mom and I continued to laugh.

No side streets. We were trapped. Caught behind a parade. I told dad that he should just pretend that we were IN the parade and that might make it a little easier to handle.

I never knew that it could take 15 minutes to go less than half a mile.

Actually it was a nice way to spend 15 minutes on a June evening. And dad has since recovered.


Melanie said...

I remembered the parade story! It is so nice that you have found an old friend and will get to visit with her despite the tragedy that made it possible.