How do you remember your hometown?

Ideas from the Road

I grew up on a farm near a town of 141 people. We’d ride our bikes the four miles into town with our dollar bill and head to the little grocery store. My friend’s Dad owned the store and he’d watch us with eagle eyes. For that one dollar we could buy a Coke and 25 pieces of candy. There was a grain elevator, an implement store, a school, two churches, a butcher and a post office in town. My little town of Geneva, Iowa will always look like that to me. 

Today there’s a restaurant, a hair salon, the elevator, and one church. The school and store were torn down. The implement store is now private storage, one church holds old furniture that needs rehabbing, the butcher shop is for rent and the post office left a long time ago. I don’t see those things when I think of town. I see the Geneva of old. The Bean Day parade every year where I got to march with the marching band, going to town to shop for groceries, and riding with dad to the elevator. I loved my little town, because it was a jumpin’ place. We had so much fun there! Memories are a powerful thing.

What will your kids remember about your town? Do they get to be involved in creating cool things downtown? Are there activities for them to take part in? 

Akron, Iowa had a plant your flag party. People were invited to come and share their big idea for the town. They didn’t vote on anything, or even take notes. They gathered and decided to do things. One of the students asked, ‘what did you do when you were a kid?’ Some of the elders talked about Scooping the Loop. That’s driving around downtown and seeing who was out. You’d stop and talk, wave, flirt and continue to drive. Maybe you went to the drive in and had some ice cream. 

These Akron kids loved that idea! In November they invited everyone to come downtown and Scoop the Loop.

The mayor told me, “At Scoop the Loop they gave out coupons for 80 free ice cream cones from Chubbs. However, people like us opted out of the ice cream and bought ourselves hot chocolate. It was really cold that night.

I would guess there were probably a total of 50 cars on the street. Several of them had 4 or more in them.  The two organizers were my daughter, Hollie, and Jennie Morin. They were the ones who personally paid for the ice cream.”

I can promise you these kids will remember THAT when they think of their hometown. They planned it, they gave away ice cream, and they had big fun. The Akron adults let them run with their idea, and that’s an important piece. Listen to the students, hear them, and let them do their ideas. All ideas are worth trying! 

Deb Brown is owner of Building Possibility and cofounder of www.saveyour.town She’s the former Chamber of Commerce Director for Webster City, Iowa, where she still lives.