Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Small Town Loss

I grew up in what I consider a small town.  Well, at least it was when I was growing up.  I moved from a midwest state into a small, but growing town.  I moved there in 1974 when I was one and the town did not become incorporated until 1978.   We can battle back and forth, but the population at that time was between 5000 and 15,000.  Yep a big difference, but all in all it was small. 

The community technically started as a Army Air Corps rest camp during WWII, but the real start in my eyes was when Mr. McCulloch brought over his manufacturing plant and began to start the growing town.  There was already the lake there dammed up by the Parker Dam, but other than that it was primarily a piece of desert next to some water.  Mr. McCulloch had to bring in people in order to start this wonderful community.   

McCulloch had purchased 11 Lockheed Electras, and formed McCulloch International Airlines, to fly in prospective buyers from all over the country. Splashy magazine ads enticed snow-weary would be customers to take a free flight to Paradise.  When they arrived, they were greeted by one of the Holly salesmen, who taxied them around in the trademark white Jeep.  In all, there were approximately 40 identical vehicles in the fleet, said to be the largest contingent of white Jeeps in the world.--Havasu Magazine

Many of my friends' parents arrived in Lake Havasu that way.  Now, I'm not exactly sure if my father came way of the Electras, but I have to assume he did.  He came out to look at a redi-mix plant since that's what he was doing back in the midwest.  Bet he kicks himself all the time for not purchasing it.  Well, if you know me, then you know what he ended up buying.  Gotta say I enjoyed that rather than I would have a redi-mix plant. 

For the most part, I went to school from kindergarten to 12th grade with the same bunch of people.  Granted some of them went to those other lame elementary schools, but we were all together from 8-12th.  I know some people moved away, but to be honest, we really did not feel your loss.  What I mean by that is that today with facebook, it seems you were always with us.  There were those of you that entered our lives between those 12 years and after putting you in your place, we welcomed you. 

But we have had our share of losses.  And to me being from what I consider a small town, I feel we have had too many.  We have had too many that have died before their prime.  There are too many that have died prior to their 40th birthday.  Crap there were too many that died before their 30th.  And a few before their 20th. 

My question of why will never be answered.  But for a city that supposedly grew by 1,000 each year from 1964-ish,  that is too many for a town of roughly 30,000 by the time I graduated.  And may be other towns have the same number, but I guess when it is your hometown, it hits home. 

The first classmate's funeral I attended was for Nikki.  I remember sitting at that funeral surrounding by friends and enemies (enemies is not the right word, rather people I clearly didn't care for).  I remember that day perfectly like I was sitting there right now.   I remember realizing that I needed to make those enemies my friends because there was only a few thousand of us.  My graduating class was 221/222, which means roughly the entire school during my four years was probably no more than 1200.  Crap some high schools today have that in one graduating class. 

I'm not saying I knew everyone in my high school.  I definitely wasn't friends with all of them.  Because like most schools, there were the clicks, chicks, and jocks.  But in some weird sense, I did know them.  And what I have found over the years is that I've become to know more and more of them because we keep meeting at these memorials. 

I have 364 friends.  Almost one for each day of the year.  Seems like after each one of these memorials, I add a few more.  It isn't that I don't like adding new friends, even though only 120 wished me a happy birthday, but I am sick of doing it after memorials. 

Those that have gone before us watch over us constantly and I am somewhat grateful for that, but I sure in the hell wish they were watching over me standing next to me in person.  Jeff's brother recently wrote-don't forget him.  We won't and we won't ever forget the others as well. 

Am I the only who thinks for a small town, we've lost way too many?

Stay safe my fellow classmates, stay safe.

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