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Home Country: Ghosts make us who we are

Slim Randles

   Two kids were arguing just outside my window the other day. Now that school’s out, they have more time for the important issues of life, of course. This time, the subject was ghosts and whether or not they are real.

  People my age have to plead guilty to the capital crime of having gray hair, and therefore aren’t qualified to participate in such weighty matters. But if they had asked me, they might have been surprised. Of course there are ghosts. We’re surrounded by them.

   Maybe they aren’t scary or grab you from behind, but they are ghosts just the same. See that rusting tank on the edge of town? That’s all that’s left from when George Dodson started that tannery back in the 1920s. He was doing all right then, until the Great Depression came along, and George and the steel tank became ghosts … a part of our history, but still somehow here with us, still a part of what makes this community our home.

   Just up Lewis Creek a mile are the sloping concrete walls of what used to be a dairy. As kids, we’d sneak over … quietly, so we didn’t spook the cows … and watch the men milking. The huge Holsteins walked in from force of habit like animated milk factories, which they were. Seems like there should be something someone could do with that old milking barn. Now it’s just hard to go by and see the weeds thickening around it as it lies there in the unrelenting sun and cracks to pieces.

   Down on Main Street is the old ice cream store where we used to go the very first time we had nerve enough to ask a girl to go with us. We’d bite the ends off the drinking straw covers, dip the remaining ends in chocolate syrup, and shoot them with a puff of breath to stick on the ceiling, like stalactites of young love.

  But today it holds the video rental store. Times change. Businesses change. People come and then leave us. But the ghosts remain. And the ghosts are the ones who make us what we are today.

  I wish those kids would ask me about them.

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Brought to you by “A Cowboy’s Guide to Growing Up Right” by Slim Randles. Buy one for that problem kid down the street. Only $2.99 on Amazon.com.

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