Friday, July 02, 2004

Small Town Life

This week, the fiasco better known as the "74th Annual Jesus Town Rotary 4th of July Celebration" has rolled into town. If any of you still had doubts that I live in a small town, this event would put them to rest.

I hate to say it, but this week is one of my favorite times of the year. The whole shebang moves into town and takes over the park for the duration of about 8 days. It's the only event of it's caliber for about 2-300 miles and attracts all of the small town folks in the tri-state area. The celebration includes things such as a carnival and local organizations hawking a variety of foods at booths crammed together along the midway. In my short 26 years I have sold everything from baked potatotes to sundaes to lemonade to pork sandwiches. I'm still partial to the sugar-shock inducing lemonade that my church is famous for.

When I was a child I used to work on my grandparents' farm for an entire week pulling weeds for 6 hours a day and as a reward he would buy us an "all you can ride" ticket for the 4th. I used to look forward to that day every year. It was only in hindsight that I realized that the ticket at the time cost about $5 and I had worked approximately 36 hours for that $5 bucks. [I actually remember when I was 7 and we had learned about the end of the world at church and I used to have nightmares that it would come some time between the actual work and payoff. And then I felt so guilty that I was so selfish about the world ending that I was certain I'd fall to my death off the flying swings.]

But there is also featured entertainment at the bandshell nightly. During its highs it has included performances by Jesus Town native Henry Lee Summer [whose debut for his video "Wish I had a Girl Who Walked Like That" marks the only time my parents have ever encouraged me to watch MTV] and during its lows features random Jesus Town family X who learned clogging last summer when visiting their Dutch grandmother in Detroit.

On the actual 4th, the town tradition is to head down to the park and mosey around all day. These are the times when I'm thankful that we have a pork-sandwich selling booth to retreat to instead of, heaven forbid, wandering around aimlessly. But other folks will take their lawn chairs and setup camp around one stretch of the sidewalk and wait for long lost friends and family members to walk by. Sometimes I'll sit with my grandfather for short periods and realize just how many people my family knows.

The whole week is capped off by a stellar fireworks display and the raffle that gives away a truck and $10,000 as top prize. Granted, I've never been lucky enough to win either. But there's always this year.

It's things like these that make me nostalgic and make me realize that there are some things I will miss about small town life.