Another Day in the Country
‘You live where?’
© Another Day in the Country
It always happened in August, our pilgrimage back to Ramona. We’d have two weeks of vacation and we’d head for Kansas.
“You’re going where?” friends would ask. “Why?”
We knew why, although sometimes it took quite a lot of explaining. Family ties, childhood memories of playing in the park with cousins, running up and down the street in a town that was only five blocks square — it was the closest thing to having roots in one place that we’d ever experienced.
Ramona also didn’t seem to change like other towns. We’d discuss it amongst our cousins as we grew older.
“How is it this town doesn’t change?” we’d asked.
It was like a town that time had forgotten.
Same buildings, still standing — maybe now just unoccupied.
Same family names, only now mostly retired, getting older.
Same houses, most needing paint.
Same park, only someone took away the slide.
Same tennis court with no net.
Same empty high school building.
Same post office.
Same old garage, falling down.
Most towns where I’d lived growing up in Kansas got bigger: Great Bend, Dodge City, Topeka, Kansas City. After a decade or two of progress, the place is barely recognizable.
But Ramona didn’t get bigger. The streets didn’t change all that much except they eventually were named and finally were paved.
Beginning in 1992, we took our pilgrimages back to Kansas seriously because we bought a little house in town that already had been standing for more than 80 years.
The house and the yard needed to be reclaimed, and we did just that in two-week increments every year until 2000, when we decided to try extending our vacation for a whole summer, and then a whole year, and here we are, still living in Ramona!
A few weeks back, we stopped at a market in Abilene for groceries after we’d done our ritual exercise at a gym. Jess had on a pair of sweatpants that sported the brand name, Calvin Klein — “CALVIN” going down her left leg and “KLEIN” emblazoned on her right leg.
She turned down an aisle when someone called out to her,
“Klein, that’s my name! What’s it doing on your pants?”
Jess smiled and explained that it was just a brand name of casual clothes, very comfortable.
Then the lady asked, “Where are you from?”
“I live in Ramona,” Jess said, preparing to explain that it was a very small, little town, but she didn’t get a chance.
“Ramona,” said the stranger. “That’s my hometown. I grew up around there. Do you know—”
She started reciting familiar family names.
“They are all cousins of mine,” she said, and she was related to a lot of local farming families. Here’s an 80-year-old lady still excited about seeing someone who lives in Ramona.
Meanwhile, I’d done my shopping, paid for my produce, and was waiting in the car.
How could Jess be taking such a long time?” I wondered, “Should I go back and check on her?”
Then, here she came, beaming, with quite a story to tell.
“I met a little lady in the market,” she said. “She was so excited to see someone from Ramona because she grew up in the area.
“I met her in the canned goods aisle, and then again in the frozen food section. I finally told her I’d mail her one of those ‘Another Day in the Country’ books that we still have stored in the closet.”
Turns out, we’re still running into the lady whose name was Klein and now lives in Abilene.
“I have another couple books to drop by her house,” my sister explained as we were heading to the grocery store after our exercise stint last week. “She has some relatives she wants to give a copy to.”
A public radio broadcast called “The Takeaway” gathers comments from people who live all over the country. You can become part of the endeavor by joining a group text. This week, the program asked people for a “sound bite” from where they live.
I had to ask my grandson how I’d do a sound bite on my iPhone.
“Your phone may not be the same as my tablet,” he texted back, “but I think you’ll find a button on the bottom right-hand side of your screen.”
“I found it,” I texted back and proceeded to record the sound of evening time in Ramona.
I had let the chickens out, and they were “talking” to me. The locusts were buzzing, and a train was coming through town, blowing their horn at the crossings.
I was so pleased with my endeavor that I also sent my sound bite to a friend who often visits us from California.
“Oh, Pat, it was so much fun to hear the train. It sounded like heaven,” she texted back.
“Hmmm, heaven?” I thought to myself. “And here it is, just another day in the country.”