Today I find myself preparing to tread a very fine line. But before I get to the serious stuff I must stop for a good laugh at that figure of speech. The idea of my treading any kind of a line is pretty funny. Age does that to you. Just walking in a comparatively straight one is a blessing many days -- but on to more weighty matters.
For as long as any of us can remember, there have been these very strong community loyalties. "Everything is better in my town than it is in yours"." I would never think of sending my kids to school in your town". "My doctor is much better than your doctor". You know the drill.
Amazingly, after all these years, I believe we are approaching the end of that era. Schools are beginning to share programs, to utilize available personnel and funds more effectively. Combining county and municipal law enforcement agencies to increase efficiency and reduce costs is mentioned.. At long last we are beginning to think in terms of areas rather than isolated smaller units and that has a lot of positive implications.
There is, though, another way to look at all of this. We can't lose sight of the importance of our small town businesses. For example, here in Marcus we have Jeff's Foods, owned and operated by Jeff and Barb Mittlestadt. Nearby Fareways and Hy-Vee's are deeply appreciated for their larger selections and, at times, lower prices, but here's where the delicate treading comes in. This fine young couple came to town some years ago. With them they brought training, experience and an unbelievable work ethic. They essentially provide for all of our basic needs and more. Their produce is always fresh and Jeff, carrying on the tradition of his predecessor Bert Lehan, offers meats surpassed by none.
Beyond that, they and their friendly, up-beat employees provide the kindest, most accommodating service you could possibly imagine. Everyone in town knows if they are ill or incapacitated and really need something, they can call the store and they will be helped.. So it behooves us to patronize their store as much as we possibly can. It would be a tremendous hardship for so many if we didn't have Jeff's Foods.
We also have Grandma's Garden, the Drug Town branch, Heartwood Cabinetry, Marcus Greenhouse and Wurth's Hardware (a store where you can find most everything). These are integral parts of this little town. There are other such businesses here and in the rest of the area's smaller places. Perhaps it is time to regard them all as essential elements of a larger whole. Thinking of it in this way might help all of us to adopt a newer healthier view of the entire area.
Who knows? It may not be long until we will be looking for a latter day Thornton Wilder to write, not another "Our Town", but a fresh new "Our Area".