The most important businesses came in pairs. Two gas stations. Two grocery stores. Two churches.
A grain elevator, pharmacy, funeral home, bank. post office, and an elementary school–summarized the rest of my home town.
All of it surrounded by farms, farm fields full of maturing crops in summer
The countryside reminded homesick immigrants of former homelands.
In my father’s lifetime, some of the older generation spoke with foreign accents.
It was another dying, Midwestern small town. Not that I cared or noticed, growing up.
My mother was an elementary teacher, in the next town to the south. Father, like my grandfather, was a farmer.
The majority, upon graduation from high school, found employment elsewhere. Some carried on the tradition of tilling the rich farmland.
I couldn’t wait to get away from tiny, Chesterfield–population 300, and shrinking. Everybody, with their busybody selves, in everybody’s business all the time. Now, I appreciate the simplicity of small town life–and it’s gone forever.
Was it possible for a person to be in an insipid mood? Well, that’s where I am today.
The battle of the household budget is not going to interest anyone. Even though, I’d like to discuss the ever-increasing price of dog treats with you.
Today, everything is overshadowed by the passing of Glen Campbell. It’s fitting that “Southern Nights” plays on in my head–after hearing it on the radio.
I was a Glen Campbell fan. Being a Vietnam-era vet, the song “Galveston,” with its lyrics about homesickness, spoke to me at the time.
Thanks to the man from Delight, Arkansas who gave us memories of warm Southern nights.
Growing up, like most teens, I took for granted local music legends–Chuck Berry, Ike and Tina Turner, Miles Davis. Didn’t every city have their own musical treasures?
Miles Davis trumpeted jazz and was kind of blue
The area wasn’t always kind to him in return
Ike and Tina Turner Revue–somewhere every weekend
The mountain was high and the valley so low
On vinyl records by The Beach Boys, Beatles, Rolling Stones
Many other artists borr0wed fame freely
Chuck Berry gave back tenfold
Early in the morning, he gave warning
Don’t step on my blue suede shoes
Words and music by C. Berry
After all these years
We’re still Reelin’ and a Rockin’
Brick-paved section of Rt. 66, near Auburn, Illinois. Exploring by-ways, old links to the past are a passions of mine.
North Broad Street, became Rt. 66, as it left the city limits. The pavement was narrow–one car had to drop off on the shoulder to pass. A highway designed for the Model T Ford era. Cars got bigger, faster, motorists demanded better highways.
The 1926–1930 alignment of the Mother Road wound through the central part of the county where I grew up. Parts of it were narrow–seemed to follow property lines. Two boys–who shall remain nameless, enjoyed driving to Springfield around the ninety degree corners in their fifties-era, Corvette sports car. They weren’t the Rt. 66 television show guys–but tried to act like it.
Hope I’m alive and in good health in 2026 to enjoy the Rt. 66 centennial celebration. There’s pending legislation to fund the celebration–“The Route 66 Centennial Commission Act”–HR 66, sponsored by Rodney Davis, Rep. from Illinois. The purpose is to preserve what’s left of the old highway. The expressway, and later alignments bypassed most of the county–except for a little bit of the southeast corner.
–Image, Jim Grey, https://www.hemmings.com/newsletter/–
Small town values
To quell winter’s cold
Far away from fake tans
Full of people
Happy for a while
Till the pendulum swung
Nothing better came along
They either moved on or stayed
A story already told
Along desolation roads
Curse you temptress
With fresh, freckled face
Oatmeal pies and snack cakes
Lay heavy on waist and thighs
My resistance was low
Said the better half
A modern-day Huck Finn
A hometown Life magazine picture taken in the summer of 1942 by legendary photographer Alfred Eisenstadt. Loehr Drug Store, Brown Shoe Store, and the St. George Hotel were still there when I grew up. The shoe store had a fluoroscope–later outlawed as being unsafe. The courthouse in the background looks the same today. Parking is less chaotic today. Traffic flows in a circle around the town square–which is to the right. This was along the first routing of US Hwy. 66.