We went home this past weekend. Home, for me, is Alton, KS located on Highway 24 in north central Kansas. When we lived there, the population was 330 people. Small-town America at its finest. My Uncle Bill passed away at the age of 84 and we went home for his funeral. It was a little unsettling to me that I don't have a lot of memories of Uncle Bill. They certainly don't come to me easily, anyway. I just remember him as a farmer, always quiet, and not one to socialize a lot. But, then, a lot of farmers didn't have time to socialize, so I guess that's not real unique. Listening to his family relive their memories of him, I was struck by his wit, his love for family and God, and his orneriness. Like I said, I don't remember any of that part of him, but my memory is not good about a lot of things way back then.
We lived in town and went to church in town and he lived in the country and went to church in the country and we just didn't get together a lot. I found out he sang in quartets, taught his daughter-in-law, Jan, to drive a 10-speed truck by getting it to the last gear, then jumping out and telling her to drive it on into town to deliver a load of wheat and I learned he went AWOL from the Navy for one night to see his girlfriend, my future Aunt Marjorie. They were married for 65 years. Uncle Bill has "Gone Home" now and I know he and my mother, his sister, are catching up in Heaven.
This just happened to be the weekend of the Alton Jubilee, a yearly event sponsored by the Alton Pride organization. The town has pretty much closed up except for a gas station and a hardware store. There are a few old buildings left that are nothing but memories now and that is hard to see when we go home. The Jubilee brings in a lot of the people who still live in town and outside of town. Kinda like the Saturday nights when I was growing up when everyone came to town to do their shopping and visiting and checking out books from the library, etc. They have a parade in the morning, then lunch, pie-baking contest, games and entertainment in the park, supper, and then the Bull City Opry Company puts on a show in the park that night. The show has a cast of local actors and singers and musicians and is very well attended. There were probably around 400 people there Saturday night. I've only seen one other one, but this one was just a hoot!!!! The people you least expect to be funny usually end up stealing the show and that was the case this year. Very enjoyable and my hat's off to the directors!
We saw many people there that I remember growing up around. It strikes you when you see these people how some have really aged and others hardly any at all. One lady had turned 88 years old that day and I never saw her sit down...she was too busy standing there talking to friends. And, of course, a couple of the girlfriends were there and we always enjoy our time with them. It certainly made a sad trip a little easier.