So it’s probably no surprise to anyone that knows me that my “good” of the week is the East Pottawattamie County Fair. If you want to see good kids, good parents, good work ethics, good success stories, good moments, good laughs, good animals, and good times, you will want to make your way to Avoca between Wednesday and Monday. (Well, and besides, it’s your chance to see me, too. Lol.)
And if that’s not enough, today you are going to listen to me wax a little nostalgic. I was talking to a guy I met this week that had grandparents who lived in Oakland when he was a kid. He spent his summer time here, and we were laughing about the stuff you remember form your childhood. What I remember most involved the people at that county fair.
I remember being a kid and Lori’s friends putting up with me – Dave, Kirk, Jeff, Carol, and Jay even played cards with me! I remember paying to get into the fair or having to go really early so we didn’t have to pay! Lol. I remember Misch teaching me to make donuts for her presentation with these circle blocks we had. I remember seeing Robin, Kris, and Scott (yes, they know who they are, no need to add last names) laughing and I wouldn’t know why but they were always up to something! I remember seeing people get thrown in the tank back when we used tanks at the fair. You got thrown in if you were cute or if you were annoying. Looking back, those were some funny reasons! I remember the demo derbies, too, and that chicken on the Pauley’s car!
Personally, I remember being excited for the dog and cat show because they let me hand out ribbons! Crazy, huh? Once I was in 4-H, I remember my first market heifer, Jen, she was a mousy thing and I had to take her out in front of the grandstand on the track and my dad telling me that there were no fences and she’d be in the next county if I let go so not to let go! I remember sitting on the showbox with Kerri and Stacey. I remember hanging out at the campers with Brad, Perry, Jennifer, Stacey, Guthrey, and a lot of others. I remember Ryan Danker’s calf always running across the fairgrounds and him holding on still! I remember having my steer, Travis Tritt, and being bummed I didn’t win, but any cattle person will tell you that you can win everywhere else and still get beat at your county fair! I also remember Rhoten telling me he was hamburger. I remember playing cards in the barns. I remember bawling when I was a senior.
And then it came full-circle, and I remember how proud I was when Tiffany and Kyra (2 of my nieces) were crowned queens or when Bethany suffered through mono to still show sheep when it was 100 degrees.
I remember tons more, but nothing earth-shattering, just small little snippets of a childhood well-spent at the county fair. I hope you have those memories, too, if not of the East Pott Co. Fair, I hope they are of somewhere…
And I hope when you see those people that make appearances in your flashbacks of childhood, I hope you’re as happy to see them as I am to see the people who show up at the East Pott. Co. Fair every year…
Got a story I need to hear? A memory I didn’t share? A story about a different county or a 4-H story or a project you made or an animal you showed? Let’s heat it.
So if I had to wage a guess, I’d have to say that the Dreamland Theater might have been the first place many a Riverside/Carson/Oakland/Griswold/Macedonia kid first held hands (or something more significant, but we will refrain from talking about that)! I have to say that I remember a couple of friends begging their moms to take us to Carson to see a movie, and I can pretty much assure you it was never because we were dying to see the movie that was playing. That was totally secondary! In fact, I’m pretty sure there are generations that could say the same thing!
It’s a lot easier to beg your mom to drop you off 6 miles away than it is to convince her she needs to head to Omaha and entertain herself somewhere other than where you are! Lol.
So when looking for the good around me, it doesn’t take long to see the Dreamland Theater as a prime example. First of all, a movie theater in a small town is always rockstar! There’s never enough to do in a small town! Plus, they actually get the good movies in a timely fashion. (Go ahead and keep in mind that I have a toddler and don’t get out much!) But I love that it is even an option. I also love that on any given Saturday night, you can find families headed to the Main Street for what Chevy Chase would call good-old-fashioned-family-fun and while there, you can chat with your neighbors or spy on the neighbor’s kid for them! I kinda think that’s awesome!
And as a mom of a toddler, I’m excited that I don’t have to pay a fortune to take my kid to an animated movie that she might not sit through!
If that wasn’t impressive enough, I happen to know there are a whole lot of people who donate money and time to help keep the theater running. Probably they wonder why they bother at times because the headaches are greater than the rewards in most cases, but from where I sit, I couldn’t be more thankful to drive by and see the lights on. I’m guessing that I’m not alone in my thinking.
Sure, you could just hop on Netflix, but there’s something special about a night out, a bag of popcorn with lots of butter, and a big screen. So mad props, Carson! Way to get it done right!
Got a story about a trip to the Dreamland Theater or some other small town movies? Let’s hear it. Got something else to say? Go ahead. Find that good, people. It’s here for the taking.
We all know what this week is! It isn’t hard to find good when you’re staring in the face of the 4th of July weekend! It’s one of those weekends where you instantly think water, drinks, sun, grilling, and friends. Maybe not necessarily in that order!
As Independence Day approaches, I can’t help but appreciate the people who go the extra mile. Like these people that decided to take their mailbox décor up a notch! LOVE it!
Of course, I also love the banners on the decks and the red, white, and blue Adirondack chairs and the tinsel ropes! I love people who go above and beyond for a holiday! (I’m not one of them currently! Lol, but maybe again someday!)
But let’s talk what I’m even more excited about: the town festivities. Here’s the deal. City people always ask why you live in a small town. I think 4th of July is the epitome of why one lives in a small town. There’s a parade. There’s free food for breakfast and for supper. There’s fun activities going on, sponsored by tons of different people that love our town enough to volunteer their time! There’s somebody selling sweet corn on the side of the road. There’s grills and parties and family gatherings. There’s fireworks and lawn chairs and people sharing sun tan lotion and bug spray and pools and slip and slides and tubing on the river or at the quarry. I don’t know how you can’t be happy when all that is in your grasp.
And truth be told, I’m hoping to see a few people this 4th of July. We moved home and everybody works a lot. We have become a society of workers and ball game watchers. Those sure aren’t bad qualities, but I love it when we all get a day off (hopefully) to talk to each other and catch up. Like I’ve always said, I’ll never pass up a holiday!
So get your wieners out! Put ‘em on the grill. Slather on the sun tan lotion. Fire up the sprinkler. Grab a beverage and a koozie and check out the schedule. If not in my town, find one nearby. And then blab about how much fun it was on Facebook! Put the all “in” in INdependence Day!
Got a schedule for your home town you’d like to share? Let’s see it! Got a good 4th of July party story? Let’s hear it! Thinking you might be here to celebrate with me Oakland? Let me know!
It never fails to amaze me that despite the lack of media coverage or love for Midwesterners, Midwesterners rise above! As many of you know, my suburb of choice for 20 years, Bellevue, Nebraska was hit last week by a tornado and straight-line winds. You might be wondering how that could be a feel-good story, but it is…
I still get all the social media out of Bellevue, and let me assure you, there was a lot to feel good about. I watched as more and more of my friends posted they didn’t have power. One even showing their power pole was in the shape of a lower case e. Some just got power back on 3 days ago, but the hardship wasn’t the focus. The focus was that the Bellevue East football and volleyball teams showed up to clean up the worst-hit areas after practice. (I believe some kids from West did the same.) The focus was that some of the great food places like Roma’s (um, yum, btw) dropped off food at designated spots for workers and those without power. The focus was that neighbors with chain saws helped neighbors without. The focus was that people who did have power were offering their houses for freezer space, charging stations, and places to do laundry. The focus was that, despite lots of damage, Bellevue regrouped and had their field ready for the College World Series guys to still practice there. The focus was on figuring out how to move on, and not one person got hurt.
To be truthful, I feel bad that I didn’t even know to check on some of my friends. They probably would have taken some brownies or rice krispy bars off my hands! 🙂 I honestly didn’t realize how much of Bellevue was hit, but what struck me, and what reminded me why I lived there for 20 years, was a lady who posted on the Bellevue info page who said something to the effect of “Imagine if we all talked and helped each other out like this every day.” Yes, imagine…
I’m sorry it took a tornado to bring people together, but I’m not sorry it worked.
As you head out into your day or evening, think about that. Take your neighbor the extra brownies you’re trying not to eat! Haha. Mow a yard for that elderly couple. Simply chat with the people in line at the grocery store. The world doesn’t have to be an isolated, dismal place.
It can be a phenomenal place if we choose to imagine…
Got a great aftermath story? Tell it. Gonna go do something nice for someone? Let’s hear it.
So I promised you a series, and that’s what you’re gonna get. You’re probably going to continue hearing some of my other rambles, too, but I’m “finding the good” wherever it catches me. (We’ll assume it won’t catch me in a swimming suit!) 🙂
The crazy part is that I didn’t have to look that far. In fact, I have so many thoughts, it was hard to narrow down to what to use next.
I decided on this.
I’ll be honest, I’ve driven by a million times. I’ve looked at it, admired it, and thought how thankful I was that somebody went to the work of keeping it up, but I’ve never actually set foot in it until now. I’m so glad I did. Not only is it gorgeous from the road, but even better from within. I daresay it was Robert Frost-ish.
It’s a hot day out. I sat down on the bench and it was like a cool spring breeze under the cover of the trees. I couldn’t even believe it. And I read the signs of who donated things like the tree donated in memory of Chrissy Galitz or the railing donated in honor of Abe Pierce or the gazebo in memory of AC and Mary Ellen Vieth. I don’t know if I can truly put into words the emotions that were sitting there with me of all the people that make up our little town.
It’s like a John Cougar Mellancamp Small Town moment right here in Oakland, Iowa. I’ve got the American flag rep, the bench tucked away in the trees, and people who put a ton of work into making sure the plants grow, the mulch stays pretty, and weeds stay out (they deserve a place in heaven for that!), and they do it because they care. I am tired of the assumption that the people who do this work are those with more time than the rest of us. Rarely is that the case. They just choose their priorities differently. They are not getting paid. They are not inmates. They are just wonderful people with a desire to see our town look nice. It’s their little piece of giving back.
You just can’t put a price on that...
If you know all the people involved, feel free to share that info with me. I don’t want to miss anyone. I hope they know how much it is appreciated. If you’d like to share your love for this place, add your commentary. Have suggestions for me? Bring ‘em.
PS – If you haven’t signed up to get my “Find the Good” blogging, you can still do so. Just click on Follow Bolton Carley’s blog up at the top on the right. Thanks to all of you who did that already. You have no idea how great it feels to get a follower.
As most of you know, I’m an Iowa girl and a hometown girl and an Oakland girl. I’ve never pleaded to be anything but. We moved home for lots of reasons, but it all comes down to the fact that this is where we belong.
With that being said, I am here and advocating for my home. One of my favorite things about Iowans is that they live the Tim McGraw Humble and Kind song to a tee. The unfortunate part about that is that people forget the amazing, wonderful assets around them and start to take them for granted.
We currently live in a world of negativity. I can be more negative than most, but I know it is my fatal flaw, and I do my best to correct it each and every day. But there are far more people out there looking at the bad and focusing on it, and I hate that for everyone. I consider myself blessed to be surrounded by a lot of people who believe in good, do good, fight for the good, and find the good. I want to be one of those people, too. So I am bringing you the good. On a platter even.
This is the start of my Find the Good series. If you like it, go ahead and sign up to follow my blog over there on the right hand side, and I’ll send you a weekly reminder of what’s good around here. Or if you have suggestions, feel free to email me. Got a lot of great ideas right now, but who doesn’t want more?
This picture is why I love a small town. In the wake of an untimely and horrible death of a well-known man, people lined up to pay their respects. The lines were out into the street. Main Street was full of cars and trucks. Over a thousand people came to pay their tributes. That, my friends, is why you live here. Nothing can replace the feeling of knowing you belong and are appreciated. A well-attended funeral is a sign of a well-lived life…
I can’t believe it, but we have yet another niece graduating (and a nephew graduating from college but he’s not the sentimental type)! And graduation always makes me reflective and feel the need to impart my wisdom. Okay, my wisdom hasn’t gotten me a national TV show or a Pulitzer, but it also hasn’t landed me in jail or on a hit list (at least, none I’m aware of)! So here are a few tidbits I hope our niece comes to learn and maybe you can share these with some kid in your family that listens better to somebody they don’t know! lol. Or maybe you just need your own little reminder:
First off, say farewell to your frenemies. Do it nicely. High school (and the business world and the PTA and the bar) is all about the people you like on any given day, hate on any given day, are jealous of on any given day, and can’t wait to get rid of on any given day. Today, you get to get rid of them. Do so gracefully. Wish them well. Cry over what was and what will be in all its scary glory, and then keep your mouth shut. You don’t have to burn a bridge, you can just choose not take that route anymore.
Old Money is still the best Money
Secondly, remember where you came from. Be loyal. Friends and family are just like clothing. The new is exciting and fun and always nice to have for special occasions, but the old stand-by pajama pants and prom t-shirt from 10 years ago will be comfy and reliable and what you need on a bad day. Same with the people you surround yourself with. It’s okay to have new people in your life, but don’t ditch the old. Dance with the one you came with. They brought you here.
Don’t be a Hater!
Third, the world may be screwed up, but you don’t have to be. I really like that Mother Theresa quote about how the world may hate or do wrong, do good anyway. There are plenty of screwed up people, situations, and moments in life. Rise above.
Better to change your mind than to not use it!
Fourth, it’s okay to change your mind. Not 500,047 times, but when you need to, go ahead. If the major isn’t right, switch it. If the friends aren’t the right circle, ditch ‘em. If the job is somewhere else, try it. We all have a plan. Sometimes, we stay on that path. Sometimes, we take the road less traveled and that makes all the difference… (Yes, Robert Frost, you were right.)
Humble and Kind, just like Tim McGraw says. Please!
Fifth, be humble. Never think you’re better than. There are those that have a lot to put on their résumé and there are those that could but don’t have to. There will always be people telling you how great they are and there will always be people that are just great. Be the great. Don’t think you’re owed anything. Hope floats when you realize your cup runneth over. (Yes, love that movie!)
It all comes out in the wash…
Here’s the bottom line: there will be crappy times when people die, your basement floods, your kid gets sick, and you want to crawl into bed and sleep it off. There will be times when you sit with a drink in your hand, look up at the blue sky, look around you at the group of people talking and laughing with you, and you’ll soak it in. Life isn’t easy, but it is doable.
Take God with you.
Build the right relationships.
Find your little piece of happiness and live in it.
Laugh when the wheels fall off. Then, put ‘em back on and bolt those sonofabitches down and take a roadtrip.
Happy Graduation, little girl! May life always treat you kind…
Any words of wisdom you’d like to share? Any of those ring true with you? Got a graduation you’d like me to speak at? lol. Tell me.