Have you ever noticed when a friend or family member passes away, you start talking about moments? Moments you spent with them. The conversation often involves funny things that happened when you were with them. Or ordinary, quiet moments with them.
When I worked as a hospice nurse, the word “reminisce”was often used. The family would tell stories, and we as nurses would notice the reminiscing taking place.
In cleaning out my parent’s estate, I find myself being reminded our lives are just one moment after another. Bad moments. Good moments. Shocking moments. Depressed moments. Funny moments. Uplifting moments.
None of us realize we have a collection of moments. When we are at the end of our life, that’s pretty much all we have: moments we have lived. Life is over now. How did we live out our moments?
I have to remind myself why I am on this earth. It is hard to stay grounded and live for the reasons I am supposed to live. I have been gifted this life and these moments. What am I doing with my moments?
When I read through my mother’s saved Edgerton Earth newspapers, I realize I was raised in a small town that could be viewed as a Norman Rockwell kind of town.
My dad worked at the True Value hardware store, and I didn’t realize it had an old-time look well before its time. A narrow staircase led to the upstairs where bikes and toys were on display. I remember the darkness of the wood shelving units and floors. If I could shop there today, I would probably buy one of those tin lunch boxes.
The front window of Robinett’s Bakery was where the day’s selection of donuts, breads, and pastries were displayed, and the cookies were inside the store in the counter-top case. The antique cash register added to the charm. I remember the cookies were three cents each at one time, and the donuts were seven cents. If you found your favorite donut was sold-out, it wasn’t really a problem settling on a second place donut. Sometimes even a third place donut. Anyone who grew up with memories of a home-town bakery can easily join in the discussion of favorites. Nuts or no nuts? Filling or no filling? Maple, vanilla, or chocolate frosting?
Across the street at Bob’s Dairy Bar, the men met for coffee and solved the world’s problems at the round table. It seems families can stay connected when dads know each other and spend time together.
Frager’s was the name of the downtown barbershop where a lot of boys received their first haircut. We could also visit the library, dime store, and local bank in the downtown area.
There were two grocery stores – I remember Dick’s IGA which later became Ken’s IGA, and the SuperValu is still there today – and now known as Edgerton Village Market. It was such a normal thing back then – they bagged your groceries in brown paper bags, loaded them on their cart, and walked with you to your vehicle. I imagine the weather was often the topic of polite conversation as the young men loaded groceries into the cars.
And then there was Mast’s Department Store. Who could forget Mast’s? Someone recently reminded me of the heavy door and the handle that clicked as you opened it. Mast’s also carried a line of shoes. The wooden floors creaked when you walked on them, and there was a little hill in the floor that led from one side of the store to the other. The same group of ladies worked there for years.
There was a furniture and carpet store as well as places that sold automobiles – and they can still be found in my little hometown. There were a few small gas stations where the guy came out and pumped gas while you stayed in the car. And that work rag really was hanging from his back pocket.
The post office was actually a bit of a fun place to run an errand, for picking up the mail meant you were deemed old enough to ride your bike uptown and be trusted in your abilities with the combination lock. Our post office box was 299. The little hinged door would swing open after you correctly spun the wheel to the correct letters and in the correct direction. We think our combination was right to H, then left to J, and right again to D, but the little wheel is gone forever – so we cannot give it a test whirl. My Aunt Pearl worked at the post office, and she looked just like the mental picture you have of her, and her voice was very soft and sweet.
Then there was Dolly’s Restaurant – how about that? And a place called Busy Corner that’s still talked about today. My dad’s first job and employers were the Hootmans who owned Busy Corner at one time. I found one of his work shirts with his name embroidered at the pocket.
The feed mill was a place you could find a pop machine, and you needed a dime to purchase your favorite bottled pop. Mine was Dr. Pepper. We returned the bottles – which was just another excuse to go back to the mill. You had to climb a few wooden steps in order to get to the front door – which made a bell chime when it opened. The mill itself was a bit over-whelming; I stayed in the front office and rarely ventured out into the work area. Dust from the feed was in the air, and the floors were so dusty – they were slippery. Farmers were there with their huge tractors and trailers, and I knew they knew what they were doing.
The guys who worked there were Jack, Fred, Charlie, and my Uncle Alfred, and I remember seeing some serious work clothes and bib overalls. Maxine was there doing book work at times. My brothers, cousins, and some of the neighborhood kids were allowed to ‘help’ and be involved in what was going on. Their pay was often a bottled pop, and for some reason they learned how to put peanuts in their bottle of pop. What a delicacy – peanuts soaked in bottled Dr. Pepper.
The men who allowed the neighborhood kids to hang out were known for some major teasing and pranks, and with all the fun that was happening, they probably didn’t realize they were teaching and nurturing the children who would grow up to tell stories of their time spent at the mill and the tasks they were allowed to do. There was a basketball hoop and places where wrestling took place between the neighborhood kids. Everyone has their own memories about what happened there, and no one tells their story without a smile on their face. The laws today would certainly prohibit the making of such fun moments. Wrestling in corn cobs? Who has stories like that?
And Callendar’s Dairy. Can you imagine a small town with a place to buy bottled milk – chocolate or white? And a paper cap secured the top of the bottle. I wish I would have saved one of those paper caps. There were plenty of opportunities for me to stash one away.
Anyone from Edgerton knows who Clem is. If you move into town and don’t know, you will eventually find out who he is and what his story is.
I grew up with five brothers and five sisters, and we often talk about the fun times we had in the neighborhood. We could walk through back yards to meet up with friends, and I have recently watched the neighborhood children do the same.
There were hills to go sledding on and a walking path beside the St. Joe River – and I would go there whenever I wanted. We just needed to tell our mothers we were headed out on our bikes, and if we knew which way we were going, we let her know. It seems our parents didn’t have many worries – we were just outside having fun. I would often ride my bike several miles outside of town on country roads to Clarksville Bridge and beyond.
We can look back in awe at what we had, but we also know it wasn’t always a bed of roses. I suppose there were a few fights – both physically and verbally between us. I suppose we could dig up those stories also.
My Grandma Kimpel was the mother of eleven boys and two girls. In her later years, Grandma was known to have said her boys didn’t fight. And her memory of those boys growing up and not fighting causes everyone to smile. My guess is there was an awful lot of wrestling that took place.
My brother Ed told me he remembers using a bath towel to make a superman cape for himself. Apparently whatever he did to the towel was not a good thing in his mother’s eyes, and he was in big trouble. He has a memory of that moment in time. Mom was probably upset because an expensive towel was no longer the towel it had once been.
Little did my mother know she would one day ask her sons if she could give her car away. An expensive car. Off it would go. Much more costly than the towel. Mom was 90 years old and decided she would no longer drive – not even in town. She told me the traffic in Edgerton was too much for her. One day all she was doing was turning into the Senior Center, and someone really honked at her. She was simply a sweet little lady attempting to take herself to lunch. She turned too slowly and someone behind her was having a moment of frustration. And a honk was directed at her.
We all know the difference between the angry honk and the friendly honk. There is the honk that indicates the other driver thinks you don’t know how to drive. Then there is the other much more pleasant honk that includes a wave and a smile.
Mom made the decision she didn’t want to hear the bad honk anymore or give another driver a moment of upset. She figured out if she gave her car away to the Senior Center, the employees at the center would pick her up in her own car. And others would not have to go to their appointments and such on the center’s van, so they too could experience more comfortable rides to their destination.
So 60 or more years after Ed was in big trouble for the towel incident, he was asked to pose for a picture with his mother donating her car to the Senior Center. And the center is still using her car. Ed was smiling in the picture and had forgotten that incident back in the early 1950s. Mom probably wouldn’t remember it at all. It was just an ordinary moment that was quickly forgotten.
We all have those moments when we realize we put energy into dumb stuff. The older we get, the more dumb the stuff is.
And as the years pass by, most of us find that worldly things take on less meaning. We begin to realize we find joy simply by making someone else’s existence just a bit easier.
It may be safe to say no one has a perfect life – but everyone has perfect moments along the way. We simply need to stop cancelling our moments and know God expects us to live each and every second He gifted to us.
If we were to visit together in my hometown, we could stop at the flower shop, and I will teach you how to buy flowers for yourself. And you will know the value in buying flowers for your friends.
May the year 2021 be the year we go back to seeing what people look like, and we will be in awe of the smile once again.
May we understand it is ok to hold off on the horn and know the person turning too slowly is just trying to take herself to lunch and be with her friends. She is simply working on adding to her collection of moments. And your bad horn just added to her collection of bad moments as well as your own collection of bad moments.
If our mothers are still here on earth with us, we can send flowers to her on our own birthday or whenever we feel like it. If our mother has passed away, we can find someone else’s mother, or just some random lady, who would love to see the florist show up on her door-step.
And most importantly, if your mother is still with us, go to her linen closet and find a towel and make yourself a cape so you can be her super-hero. After all, you are not going to inherit her car, so you might as well become her super-hero. She won’t yell at you for she is now old enough and wise enough to not spend her energies on dumb stuff. She will simply laugh at her super-hero son as she signs the papers to hand her car over to someone besides you. Please put a smile on your face and send her flowers anyways. It will add to everyone’s collection of good moments.
© Marlene Oxender 2021