The small town. How can it be that a small town is the topic of conversation wherever I go? It inevitably comes up when questions get asked, so can it be that I wear it on my sleeve for those who don’t know me to see? I know it’s assumed that any small town has a deep effect on those who live there. Childhoods are formed, friends are made and memories carried forever – and even I’m guilty of stretching the truth when it comes to how really small this town is and how slow-paced life can be. I’ve never thrown a rock from one end to the other, but c’mon, is it really the town that gives us this deep down feeling of Mayberry?
I’ve been thinking about this for the past week or so, and I’ve come to some sort of conclusion; there is something about the gravel on the streets and the red bricks making up the main drag through town. That feeling you get on a Sunday driving down main street when there are no cars parked along the curb, and not one soul in sight. The quiet of the country as it creeps into the city limits around dark, and the sound of a breeze blowing the cheers from the football field on game night. But wait, it’s more than that. It’s the people. It’s those within the community that can have a lasting impression on a small town guy like me. Over the years there have been many - and for you the list maybe different from mine - but just like the bigger cities where it’s bumper to bumper or elbow to elbow, it’s the people who rub off on you. Slow down, take a breath and stay awhile.
I can remember Harold Anderson sweeping the floor of the lumber yard at closing time. He always sprinkled a green floor-sweep all over the floor to put some oil back into the wood, and that always impressed me. You could always find Keith Lee somewhere in town standing waist-deep in a ditch digging up a water line with a big smile on his face. Keith Kahnt, Jim Barber and Lacy and John Mahon; Buck Sangwin, Butch Krause, John Kohler, Perry Moore and Vernon Rose were also right there in town every day touching the lives of those in White City. Frank Nelson and his son Frankie, Fay Comp, Herb Nuemeyer, Bill Calvin, Kenny Ingmire, Don Sanford, Bob Roberts and the list goes on and on. Let’s not forget those school teachers who helped shape the community with their time and efforts; Leland and Mary Lawrenz, Mary and Nancy Laudeman, Mr. Otis, Mr. Haun and Mrs. North. Sybil Effland, LeAnn Hickman, Don and Karen Harmison, Peggy Stenstrom and Harry Granzow among others. It would be very hard to name everyone and it would be easier to just pick up the phone book and open it. So many people in and around White City have made this community what it is and Joann Kahnt has had a big part in keeping our memories alive – by taking and recording photographs for our kids to see what we all used to look like when we were their age. It doesn’t seem like it now, but in a few years we will come to appreciate her hard work.
The shift changes every decade or so with those who pass the responsibilities they’ve held on to someone else. This small town has a way of letting you go out and find your way in life, but leaving a trail of bread crumbs so you know your way home. There will always be a familiar face somewhere and a smile and laugh to take with you when you go. As I said, your list may be different. For me and my memories, this is just a short list of those who had a hand in them. Some of these good folks are still with us, and some have gone to a better place, but if you stand in front of the community building around dusk, I swear you can see them rolling up the sidewalks on main street.