Ode to a Small Town: My Heart Will Always Live There

JC in the old abandoned quarry in Kasota, MN. 1961

JC by the old abandoned quarry in Kasota, MN. 1961

It’s so funny, the way that the heart remembers. I was a little girl of about four years the first time I recall traveling to my Gra’ma’s house in Kasota, Minnesota. Daddy would turn right at the corner by Jim Klein’s Garage (at the bottom of the hill entering Kasota) and my heart would skip a beat. There, up ahead, I could see the black-oil covered railroad track crossing that led to Gra’ma’s, and my little sister and I would scream with excitement and delight. As we drove from the make-shift blacktop road onto the gravel road immediately preceding the old railroad crossing, the scent of wildflowers filled our nostrils and I was certain we’d all just died and gone to heaven! Up and over the railroad tracks with a very sharp turn to the left we’d go, then down Gra’ma’s long gravel driveway.

Before very long, Mama, my sister and I were living on Gra’ma’s property where we were surrounded by lilacs, sumac bushes, Vogt’s enormous horse pasture and the bull pasture, too. My little sister and I would spend endless hours, days and then months playing in that horse and bull pasture. The Vogt girls would sometimes give us a ride on “King” one of their horses, and we’d build imaginery forts in an old abandoned quarry that was located a little ways away in the bull pasture.

I sometimes crossed the railroad tracks to visit a dear little elderly man who seemed to enjoy cooking food for me. Mr. Rollings was a kind and warm person, who, just before leaving their little house across the tracks, gave me a card in which he’d written, “To the little girl who never forgot”. I miss him to this very day. My little sister and I loved to pick wildflowers and take them to the Old Rest Home that sat kitty-corner from the Rybus home. (Sadly, the old rest home is no longer standing.) All of the elderly folks who lived there would always smile happily when they’d see us come in.

I began walking to the old Kasota School (no longer standing) that stood across the street from the Old Kasota Post Office when I entered Kindergarten. The school was massive in size, but my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Kruse, made it’s interior a warm, and happy place. Upon entering the first grade at John Ireland School in St. Peter, MN, it became necessary for me to ride the school bus. I would wait for the bus in front of the Old Kasota School most mornings, except when the winter weather grew very blustery and cold. On those frigid mornings, Mr. and Mrs. Barklow (who ran the post office) would always let my little sister and I wait inside by one of the post office windows for our bus. There were many kind people living in our little town.

I frequently return to Kasota just to visit and to reminisce. So much of my heart remains there. It was the ideal place for children to experience their childhood and to develop wonderful imaginations. Although I very much love my life today in Lakeville, Minnesota, I know that the very special small town of Kasota will always draw me back into it’s heartwarming, nostalgic embrace – even if only for a few minutes at a time.

(Copyright 2014 by JC Fredlund) Copyright 1974 – 2014 by JC Fredlund (JC Eberhart, Past Pen Name): ©JC Fredlund and JC Fredlund’s Artistry Blog, 1974 – 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to JC Fredlund and the link to http://www.JCFredlund.wordpress.com blog is included with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Through a Child’s Eye

Driving down the narrow, winding road my heart leapt as I approached the old town hall I’d remembered so well.  I had finally ventured back to the little town where I’d grown up so long ago.

I had intended for so many years to return there.  It has always possessed some of the most cherished memories of my life and had for some time aroused a sentimental curiosity within me.  Yet I reminded myself that to enter the past is impossible as the old saying, “you can never go back home” echoed through the corners of my mind.

As I rounded the corner by the old town hall I slowly drove past house after house.  I was disillusioned by what I saw.  I wondered how this could possibly be the same small town in which I’d grown-up.   The roads all seemed so much narrower now than I had remembered and the houses had aged beyond belief.  Despite a vague familiarity nothing looked quite the same to me.  I experienced a strange, deep surge of sadness.

Driving on, I felt certain that the old house in which I’d grown up would surely not disappoint me.  How well I remembered it’s beauty.  As a child I’d always loved to think of it as my huge white castle.  It was surrounded by a wonderland of Catalpa Trees, lilac bushes, apple orchards and hundreds of lovely flowers.  A perfect setting for a child to imagine her very own wonderland.  It had always been a place which radiated love and tranquility and I’d always known happiness there.  It was almost as if all those beautiful memories had, for years, been beckoning my brief return.

Turning into the long, narrow, gravel driveway, I slowly passed what I had remembered as a beautiful garden.  It had flourished under the tender loving care which my grandfather had labored many long, hard hours to provide.  There, now before me, stood only an enormous field of tall, unkempt weeds.

I thought to myself how grateful I was that my grandfather would never have to bear the heartbreak that seeing this would have brought him.  I visualized him there, pushing his old hand tiller, the sun beating mercilessly down on his back.  I looked farther ahead expecting to see the picturesque apple orchards, but they, too, were gone.  Everything looked so painfully desolate.

Driving on, my eyes fell upon the house which has, for so long held so many of the wonderful memories of my childhood.  Shocked, I saw before me a decrepit old house.  It was no longer the towering white “castle” that I’d hoped to find.  It obviously had been neglected and allowed to weather with the years.  It appeared to be crying out for the care that it had once known.  There were no blossoming Catalpa trees nor billowy lilac bushes standing majectically around it.   Only brownish, sun-dried grass which desperately thirsted for water.

I stopped my car and sat silently engulfed in sadness.  My heart cried out to that dear old place that I had loved so well.  I knew then that I should never have ventured back.  As I felt a tear emerging, a sound caught my attention.  I looked up to see a little girl of about five come running out of the house slamming the old porch door behind her.  I wondered how she could appear so happy in that old run-down place.

As I was just about to drive away, she ran toward my car.  As I paused to roll down my window, she very cheerfully announced “Hello!  I’m Snow White and this is my cottage where I live with my seven dwarfs!  Would youu like to play with us?”  I smiled but shook my head ‘no’.  As she turned and scurried away it became apparent to me that she was every bit as happy there as I’d once been.  I pondered over her words, “this is my cottage.”  They reminded me so vividly of the way in which I had referred to that place as my “castle” when I’d been her age. 

As I paused to watch her happily at play, my heart was suddenly warmed by what I saw.  It was then that I realized that that dear old place had not really lost it’s beauty at all.  The old cliche “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” ran through my mind.  I had seen reflected in the little girl’s eyes every bit of the beauty that I had once known there.   I wondered whether perhaps she, too, would one day return there just as I had.  I somehow hoped that she wouldn’t.

Driving away, I dried the tear that I’d felt emerging earlier, no longer a tear of sorrow.  For, the little girl I’d met had unknowingly transformed my sadness into a very peaceful kind of understanding and acceptance.

(Copyright 2014 by JC Fredlund) Copyright 1974 – 2014 by JC Fredlund (JC Eberhart, Past Pen Name): ©JC Fredlund and JC Fredlund’s Artistry Blog, 1974 – 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to JC Fredlund and the link to http://www.JCFredlund.wordpress.com blog is included with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Aside

“Old Click-itty – Clack”

Mt.CoalTrain2
Click-itty– clack, click-itty-clack                                                

as the able train chugs down the track,

I gaze out it’s window

green trees and blue sky

as they’re ever so quickly

whisked on by.

The train car rocks gently

from side – to – side,

then jerks in staccato’

drawing the eye;

returns to the rhythm

as we roll down the track,

the soothing sweet music

carries me back . . .

Two tiny girls, how we loved those old trains,

sleek, steel dinosaurs

rattled my brain;

the cry of their whistle

echoed into the night

as though they were bidding

Pat and Jeanie, “good night”.

The engine’s smoke billowing

up into the sky

 brushing the clouds

 as they floated on by;

 our ears to the ties

  little sister and I

  could predict by vibration

  another soon would roar by.

Off in the distance

we could hear it’s approach

til louder and louder

went thundering by

our bedroom walls trembled

but we didn’t cry.

 

Haunting howl of it’s whistle

faded into the night

after two tiny passengers

boarded it’s flight

in their bed, went along,

while all snuggled in tight;

rode the nightly dream journey

on old Click-itty-clack

as it carried two sisters

to dreamland, and back.

How we loved the sweet music

chugging down the track . . .

that magical rhythm

still takes me back

to our countless night journeys

on the sweet, soothing sound,

of Old Click-itty – Clack.

(Copyright 2014 by JC Fredlund) Copyright 1974 – 2014 by JC Fredlund (JC Eberhart, Past Pen Name): ©JC Fredlund and JC Fredlund’s Artistry Blog, 1974 – 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to JC Fredlund and the link to http://www.JCFredlund.wordpress.com blog is included with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Aside

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