Having written yesterday’s essay on my childhood Thanksgivings in Gaylord, my spirit was tugged to drive out to the little town on the plains before all of the holiday festivities got underway. So I climbed in my vehicle and drove west.
It was a gorgeous day, and memories of years ago came flooding back. I drove around the town for a while, and parked in front of the home my grandparents built.
Gaylord has changed very little. It’s a small town of 2,200 people, strikingly similar in every way to Lake Wobegon, Minnesota.
The Ford dealership which was originally Ralph Jones Motor Sales (when it was downtown), then East Side Ford, then Wolf Motors is no more. It’s a bit tragic that the Ford dealership and garage that my grandfather spent his entire adult life building and running is no more. I thought of how much the world has changed around this small town in the last 60 years, since Ralph bought the dealership, about the globalized economy, and about the present troubles of the Big Three Detroit automakers.
Finally, I drove to the cemetery, south of town, and visited my grandparents’ graves. Ralph and Florence Jones were salt-of-the-earth people — small town Minnesota people. I miss them, and I miss what they stood for in my life. The longer they’re gone, the further away I feel from this beautiful, tragic small farm town. The one stop light. The siren that blows and noon and 6pm every weekday to signal time for dinner and supper. This is a part of my life that my children will never know except through my stories and, even so, will never truly understand.