Growing up in Southwest Michigan, I learned the meaning of the adage, ‘I used to walk to school for a mile, uphill, in the snow’… I may not have walked a mile, but I did walk a LOT in the snow. The small town of Allegan is nestled up to the Kalamazoo river and only a short drive from Lake Michigan, which meant that, when everyone else in the state was receiving a few inches of snow, we were getting a foot or more.
At that time, before the big box stores and Walmart’s took over, downtown is where we went to get nearly everything. The Benjamin Franklin store, the JCPenney, the small drug store, local barber shop, and who could forget The Grill. Situated on the main street corner it was a place to go for a coffee, breakfast, or that burger for lunch. It was where everyone had lunch during the work week.
Built in 1903, it harbored the local Post Office at one time. Has changed hands many times and, today, keeps the tradition of a local diner. I remember this building mainly because it was a center piece of our life downtown. We see so many television shows on the Hallmark Channel that idolize these small Americana towns as romantic, but that was the center of our community and the Grill was always right there in the middle of it.
The photo today is a snap shot of the print I have hanging above my office fireplace created for my grandparents by a well-known Seattle artist. He did a fantastic job of capturing the feel of that small-town street. There are so many stories I could share and will probably share more down the road.
We don’t see that community closeness very much these days. We live so isolated from each other. We have neighbors who live 10 feet from us and we don’t even talk with them. Granted, I wasn’t a fan of people around town knowing everything about me or my family, but it was nice knowing people looked out for us.
We can’t go back in time. We can’t try to re-create what was. But, we can make a community where we are today. It may not have the quaintness or feel of that small town on a snowy day or of that place called The Grill where everyone came together to share a coffee or lunch, but it may be something we can build that will help create those close-knit communities over time.
One way is by sharing here. My whole goal of this daily blog is to share my heart and memories with you and my family. Some of whom I may not ever have the chance to share with otherwise. So, today, know that you are part of my community and you’re loved my friends!