I grew up in a small town called The Village Of Woodson...that's right...Village. There were only 300 hard working, honest, home-spun souls that lived in Woodson back then. I think there might be a few more now, but not sure. Woodson sits pretty much smack-dab in the south central part of Illinois. That's Ill-in-oye, not the ever so popular Ill-in-oise. We had a livestock sale-barn, a grain elevator (corn and soybeans), US Post Office, 4 churches and (of course) a bar. Even the smallest towns have bars. What we didn't have was a gas station, grocery store, or stop lights. Not a single one. Life was Mayberry simple. We fit that mold in Woodson where everyone knew everyone, everyone helped everyone, and everyone waved to everyone no matter what. A small version of Mayberry minus the sheriff and deputy. No need for those back then.
It was a different time back then and our idealic Village was in a time capsule. There was no crime, not a soul locked a door. Not to their car, truck, their sheds or their houses. We were never indoors unless we were asleep, in school, eating (we had family meals back then and there was NO breaking that rule), or sick. My curfew was the moonbeams' glow or my Mom yelling to get home. If I was too far away to hear the message from my Mom was passed through the town by others yelling. Caddy-corner from my house was the town park. Don't get the wrong idea...it was small with not much in the way of equipment. That suited me just fine though...my friends and I made use of the lack of "stuff" to incorporate wiffle and baseball fields. The basketball court was fine, as long as we provided the nets and the upkeep. We also fashioned our own tennis court on that asphalt as well. Resourceful. Needless to say we loved our sports and the whole town of boys my age or thereabouts would come together at every opportunity to play whatever sport was in season. We played every day...all day. For football we played in a lot next to the Baptist church so we wouldn't accidentally be "tackled" by a merry-go-round or the monkey bars.
I didn't realize it back then, but The Village of Woodson was the perfect place to grow up. By the time I was 18 I just wanted to get out of there, I wanted to see the world. I felt trapped and confined. Little did I know how free I was in that small town? I miss it now. I do not wish to go back, only to hold onto the memories I have, and the smiles those memories still bring. Other than a trip to see relatives in Arkansas and a canoe trip to neighboring Missouri, I never got more than probably 100 miles away from home in my 18 years there...Yet after seeing more of the world than most ever get the pleasure to; mostly, my fondest memories are of The Village.
To be continued....