Back to Gaylord

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.

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  • I’m stirred by today and yesterday’s posts/stroies. Thanks.
    “But I talk about my life anyway because if, on the one hand, hardly anything could be less important, on the other hand, hardly anything could be more important. My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it anything like right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours. Maybe nothing is more important than that we keep track, you and I, of these stories of who we are and where we have come from and the people we have met along the way because it is precisely through these stories in all their particularity…that God makes himself known to each of us most powerfully and personally. If this is true, it means that to lose track of our stories is to be profoundly impoverished not only humanly but also spiritually.”
    From *Telling Secrets: A Memoir* by Frederick Buechner (HT: