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My Home TownPosted Tuesday, August 18, 2009, at 5:00 PM
I was born in the Boot Heel and grew up on the east side of the state. My parents moved to Saint Louis in 1951 where I spent my youth immersed in the culture and history of the Mound City as it was called back then. As soon as I was out of the house I moved about the country for sometime but I never really put down roots anywhere. When I was first married my wife and I lived in Saint Louis County. When my third daughter was born I decided to move to St. Francios County to accept a job. Several years later I bought a new house and started putting down roots and working on a dream. I lived in Flat River, Missouri for over twenty-two years. We lived in the same house all that time, the girls went through the school system from Kindergarten through high school graduation in the same school system. I owned a business that supported my family and eight others. These were the families of the men who worked with me in my construction company. It seems that some things revolve around my third daughter. She moved to Marshall to be with here husband attending Missouri Valley College. My youngest daughter was attended the local college in my southeast Missouri home town and then went to nursing school. We would come up to Marshall to visit my daughter and experience the community. I don't mind telling you that I fell in love with the Marshall community the first time I saw it. I finally moved to Marshall in 2002 after my daughter had her first baby.
Being from the Southeast part of the state I have always considered it my place. And Park Hills, Missouri ( what it is named today) as my hometown. I guess you could say that I had my feet in two camps. Living in Marshall, Missouri and always feeling like I was not really at home because my hometown was almost four hundred mile away.
Last weekend I had the occasion to return to Farmington, Missouri to attend the wedding of my nephew. After the wedding I decided to drive over to Flat River- Park Hills to cruise around town and visit some friends.
There's an old saying that "you can't go home again." I can tell you that for me it is true. It was depressing, the town is on the verge of losing it's largest employer. The landmark chat dunes (some over three hundred feet tall) are being leveled. The businesses around the business district are in terrible shape and the town felt terribly vague to me. All the neighbors had grown older and some I didn't even recognize. Other neighbors had died and some had moved away.
Later, I returned to the motel in Farmington for the evening. The next day as I drove back up to the Saint Louis area I started feeling apprehensive. It seemed that the people were moving to fast to get back to the I-270 bottleneck that turns it into the "Great Interstate Parking Lot." To add to the gloom it starting raining and there was a six car accident in the center lane. As I sat in traffic I found myself regretting the Saint Louis experience, the crowd, the vague surrounding that I could still recognize and the awful feeling of feeling out of place.
When I finally broke through the traffic I jumped off the interstate for different roads to get back to Marshall. When I could see the Saint Louis mess in my rear view mirror I started to feel less apprehensive and more at home in a way that's hard to describe. As I drove along listening to the radio a song by Bruce Springsteen called "My Hometown" came on the radio. As I listened to the music it hit me. Emotions that I haven't felt for a long time flooded over me. I realized that I wasn't leaving my hometown I was going home. I was going to Marshall, Missouri my adopted home town. I wasn't born in Marshall - I chose to live there. I loved the community, the people and that's were my roots were now, and all of my stuff.
When I finally arrived back in Marshall to familiar surrounding, waiving to people I knew and knew me I finally felt at home. I just wanted to take the time and say thank you to the City of Marshall, all of the people of Marshall and Saline County for allowing me to put down my roots next to yours and continue working on my dreams.
As always, I'm John Q.
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Larry Maxwell is a retired businessman who often writes about topics related to faith and religion.