A Facebook friend recently posted a photograph of a scene from his hometown, a small Iowa farm town, and commented on how much he enjoyed walking down Main Street of his hometown. Though I have more than one hometown, I completely understand his sentiments.
My family moved frequently when I was a youngster. My wife and I have lived in several communities during our 40-plus years of marriage. I can make "hometown" connections to quite a few places in Iowa.
My parents lived on a farm west of Titonka when I was born and my earliest memories of "home" are tied to that small town in northern Iowa's Kossuth County. Several years ago I drove from Forest City to Titonka on county roads. As I drove through Woden and then headed west into Titonka the flat topography of the area gave me a warm feeling of familiarity. My earliest memories of Iowa's rich farmland were formed here.
After a drive around Titonka where I spent many childhood days with my grandparents, uncles and aunts and cousins and, I continued west to the farm where my grandparents lived. So much of the farmstead has changed since Opa and Oma retired in 1957, but in my memory so much remains the same.
Though we left the area when I was four, this part of Iowa will forever hold the warmth of home to me.
We moved into the central Iowa town of Ellsworth when I was 5-years-old. On a number of occasions I have left I-35 at the Ellsworth exit and enjoyed a drive around town. The old school building where I went to kindergarten through second grade was torn down years ago but I can still envision it all, including the thrilling merry-go-round that would now be outlawed by the safety folks.
Three years later we moved three miles west to Jewell. On numerous occasions I have taken a slow drive around town, sometimes tracing portions of my old newspaper route. We lived here when I was ages 8-12 and have warm memories of all the fun (and shenanigans) I enjoyed during that time.
After a brief stay in northwest Iowa's Sibley, we moved back to Hamilton County and, ultimately, into the tiny town of Kamrar halfway between Jewell and Webster City. As a teenager I knew who lived in every house in town and in most cases actually knew the residents by their first names. The feed mill where my father worked is gone as is the school building, but many memories remain.
When I was 14 the Kamrar school merged with the Blairsburg and Williams schools to form the Northeast Hamilton Community School District. Many of my friends were from Blairsburg and Williams and I spent a lot of time in those communities. I get hometown feelings when I visit there, too.
When I left home, it was a short 10-mile move to Webster City, our county seat, where I lived for more than six years.
There is an assumption among farm town boys that the county seat chicks are hotter than the hometown girls. That's not necessarily true but I got one of those county seat girls for myself. We married in Webster City and welcomed our first child there.
We've been gone for nearly 40 years now but Webster City still feels like home when we visit.
Subsequently, our family resided in Sioux City and Creston before moving to Ankeny 12 years ago. We have countless memories of our years in those communities.
We drove to Creston one evening last week to attend the funeral home visitation for the father of friends there. We visited with a number of old friends who warmly reminded us of the 12 years when Creston was our home.
The lights of Ankeny emitted a warm "welcome home" when we returned late that evening.
On occasion I have envied those who can identify one community as their hometown. I have concluded, however, that my semi-nomadic life has enriched me with experiences and friends that I would have never gained had I stayed in one place.
I experience hometown feelings like most everyone else. I just experience them in more places.