|Our county jail as I remember it|
Of course, it wasn't always pristine. It was smaller farms than, say, in Iowa or Kansas. As often as not, they were fields broken by hills and woodlands. Winding country roads with old, dilapidated houses and rusting farm equipment, sitting year after year, helping to reduce taxes on the annual submissions. At times, truth be told, it looked downright dirty out there. Junked up yards, old vehicles. Every now and then a farm house itself looked good, but only until you drove a little and saw this or that rundown, abandoned building with boards over the windows and doors. Again, tax shelters agricultural style.
Sometimes, at night, it could be downright scary. One night when I was little, my Aunt and Grandma were visiting and we were coming home from nearby Marion. It was pouring rain, and the car got stuck near home. My Mom got out and went to a nearby farmhouse. It was old, the wood grayed and the porch
Still, there was something about it. Our school area sat in the middle of the older neighborhoods in town, with the high school and its sports fields the farthest north, flanked by houses, woods and a corn field. Football on Friday nights just doesn't seem the same without looking at the buildings along one side and the field to the north.
And you had the FFA - that's Future Farmers of America to us, a select subgroup of the high school culture, snuff in cheeks and able to take apart a tractor with one arm tied behind their backs. Those kids had been driving grain trucks before most of us were playing with toy soldiers.
And then there was the harvest time. The house my Dad rebuilt, when I was about two years old, sat outside town in the inner-skirts of the farming regions. He had - at the time - 30 acres. Most of it was woods. Nearby was a field to the west. Against the recommendations of nearby farmers, he had a large garden next to that field. It grew wonderfully. Corn, beans, tomatoes, cantaloupe (the best anyone ever ate), pumpkins - he even tried watermelon once. And at harvest time, back then, you still saw cornstalks and haystacks, old scarecrows in fields and sincere pumpkin patches.