Where I’m From

It was a bittersweet weekend.

I’ve mentioned before that my parents are in the process of moving to a house in our neighborhood.  It will be the first time I’ve lived in the same town as my parents since I left for college.  We are absolutely thrilled by this.  Their move is in its very final stages; this last weekend, in fact, was their last in the little Arkansas town where I grew up.

This is significant to my family because my dad, and his dad, and his dad have lived in "Mayberry" for a bazillion years, making countless dear friends and leaving an imprint on the community which cannot be measured (and I’m not bragging–it’s all my family’s doing, not mine.  The extent of my contribution to the community was twirling a fire baton at homecoming a couple of years).   

My brother’s family and my own met there this past weekend to say "goodbye" to our old haunts.  While my parents will likely be returning there to visit, my brother and I know that it will likely be a very, very long time until we return.

The weekend included a community-sponsored "roast" of my Dad, all in good fun and uproariously funny.  I gave a sweaty-palmed speech (I loathe public speaking to the core of being, but I’d do it for my dad) as did many others.  And at the risk of sounding corny (though we both know I passed that a LONG time ago) I can tell you that I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of my parents.  Hearing all those people pay tribute to them, all the while knowing they’re embarking with great courage on a huge life change–well, I could just burst.

Anyway, our weekend was spent re-visiting all the places that have meant so much to me:  the house were I grew up, the cemetary where my grandparents are buried, my schools, my friends’ old houses, the church where I met Jesus and married my husband…really, I’m just a big, sappy, homegrown ball of emotion as I think about it. 

This town is a place all its own, and I took a few pictures to prove it (more pictures are here).

For starters, we took the kids out to an old swimming hole just outside of town–gorgeous place.  I never realized how pretty the hills of Arkansas are until I left them.  Here’s my dad with two of my boys:


Here’s a shot of the downtown.  I told you it was just like Mayberry:


Most of the local business are patriotic.  Just a little:


This is the picturesque building that housed the business my grandfather, then my dad, built:


Next is the A-1 Superstop, home of the finest biscuits west of the Mississippi.  Actually, I included this picture because my husband reminded me this weekend of the time we were visiting Mayberry and he (a confirmed big-city boy) ran in to the A-1 to grab a bottle of water.  The cashier had just finished a conversation with a previous customer, and she turned to my Hubs and said, "Man, there’s nothing worse than opening up the newspaper to find your name listed in the arrest warrants section, is there?"  My bewildered Hubs mumbled something about "hate it when that happens":


This last shot is just because I couldn’t resist.  In Mayberry there’s a bait shop next door to the Sonic.  Because, you know, nothing puts me in the mood for a Diet Cherry Limeade like chicken liver:


I love that place, and I’m feeling the kind of rest that comes from a good, long look at one’s roots.  I miss it–just a little–already.

25 thoughts on “Where I’m From

  1. Char says:

    Nothing like a good ol’ trip down Memory Lane to stir up the memories of good times huh? I loved the pics you posted too! That’s exactly how I imagine small-town America to be! My hubby and I will be moving to small-town South Africa soon. Like in a few weeks time. We are excited and scared witless! haha! It’s one thing moving from small-town to city – but in reverse? Only time will tell!

  2. elizabeth says:

    You’re totally accurate, Shannon. There is not a handful of folks who could move away and leave such an empty space. Your family will be missed in many places and in many ways. As I have driven past your neighborhood -and theirs- so many times in the last 4 weeks, though, I think about them a lot and I know that they are just so happy to be here with you!!

  3. mimi2six says:

    I must admit: it is harder to leave our hometown of 36 years than I thought it would be. This wonderful weekend was full of memories and the blessing of old friends. However…..we now enthusiastically step into our future which places us right in the middle of our children’s (and I include our incredible children-in-law when I say “our children”) and grandchildren’s lives. We have new memories to make and new friendships to form. The goodbyes are sad, but what awaits us is going to be so much fun!! We will stay in close touch with the dear friends in Mayberry, but our future belongs here where our hearts are……near our kids and grands! We are just very grateful that God has allowed us to make this move.

  4. Sarah (Short Stop) says:

    Ohhh…you make me miss the town where I grew up so much! It was so much like this…small town, Southern, family businesses.
    Thanks for taking me on the trip to yours!

  5. T with Honey says:

    Dorothy had it right when she said “There’s no place like home.” My mom still lives in the house I was brought home from the hospital to, where I grew up. And even though I love my house in another state, and that 1st house with my husband is my home… that old place where I grew up is still home. I feel so comfortable there and always will.

  6. Jill says:

    Oh Shannon, how exciting to have your parents close but sad, all at the same time!!! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Jamie says:

    It was so nice to see these pictures with your story. My father (and his father, and his father’s mother….and her father’s father) all came from a Northern Mayberry, complete with lakes, baitshops, little boys walking down the dirt road with their limit of fish, church picnics, you name it. When my grandmother sold the homestead (every generation except for mine and my children lived on that property since before MN was a state) I hurt a lot. When she passed last month, my father forbid me from going to her funeral (buried in the Northern Mayberry) because he thought it too much for me, I knew I would never lay eyes again on that town. It’s bittersweet knowing that my Northern Mayberry isn’t the only Mayberry in the U.S.

  8. boomama says:

    Oh, Shannon – I could just cry. I too am a sappy ball of emotion about this kind of stuff. But how wonderful that you got to go home and say goodbye – such great memories for your kids.
    And for what it’s worth, I’m just as proud of your parents as I can be. I’ve been trying to convince Mama and Daddy to move over here for about seven years, but I think they’re staying put…after all, who in the world would represent our home church at the Methodist conference in Jackson if Daddy left?

  9. Diatribal says:

    Wow. What a touching post. It is definitely hard packing up and leaving what you have known all your life. My family and I are in the process of uprooting and moving to MI from AR. I will be blogging all about what goes on in the process. My parents moved out of my hometown years ago, so sometimes I feel like I don’t have a hometown anymore.
    By the way…I happen to recognize some of those photos and it is a lovely little piece of Americana that you come from. I had a good friend in college that was from there. Sweet town.

  10. MrsFierceShoes says:

    I’m an old Arkansas girl too! Grew up in southern until 13 and then moved to northern. Your pix made me long for the good old Arkansas days. Nothing like not living there to make you appreciate the small town vibe. I have a really funny small town picture I’m going to post tomorrow that you’ll love (it relates to your Sonic pic).

  11. tiffany says:

    I love this post. I live in Mayberry on Mayberry street. I know all my neighbors and love them.. they are awesome people. I feel so grateful to be here. We lived in the city and our neighbors were into all the inner city stuff (let your imagination run wild and you’ll spot on).. this little house in Mayberry on Mayberry street has given my soul a rest and has been a gift from God.. if I ever have to move (you know how jobs are these days) I will always be grateful that I have been able to live here.

  12. Dayna says:

    Reminds me of my hometown in Oklahoma. Chances are slim I would move back there, but fortunately, if my parents ever leave, I still have aunts and uncles who will be there.

  13. brenda :D says:

    My mom grew up in Havana, Arkansas — and my dad grew up near Clarksville. Spending time with my grandparents each summer helped me understand and appreciate the “Mayberry” feeling you’ve described. I remember walking the ONE block to the general store and having folks holler from their porch, “Are you Sister Tishie’s grandbaby?” I made sure to be on my best behavior because I knew they’d tell Grannie if I’d been up to any mischief!

  14. chilihead says:

    I don’t care how many times you say it, every time you remind me you twirled fire batons my jaw drops. I always wanted to do that.
    I can vouch that your parents are wonderful. I know they’ll be missed in Mayberry and that their contributions were to numerous to count. I’m so excited for you to have them close by, though!

  15. Kelly at Love Well says:

    Oh my word. I loved the story about your husband going in to get a bottle of water. That’s hysterical.
    When my husband and I moved to our small town from the big city a few years back, my husband had a man come into his office and introduce him to the wonders of the Internet. In 2003. After my husband had worked in Silicon Valley for a high-tech company during the dot-com boom and bust. His exact words? “I really think this Internet thing is going to be HUGE someday.”

  16. proverbs31 says:

    I’m so happy for you! I am in the process of helping my parents pack to move AWAY from me and AWAY from the town where I grew up. My three kids have always had them here close at hand. Waah! It took me a while to adjust to the idea, but I’m starting to get there now. I know you’re excited to have them near you, and I think it is something that you’ll really enjoy. It’s a great blessing. 🙂

  17. Heidi says:

    We did the exact same thing last summer. My parents moved 1000 miles to be near us (grandkids are a big draw). So we went to the town where I grew up and visited everywhere, and helped them pack. Now they live 2 houses up the street, and it rocks!

  18. Daisy says:

    We have little towns like that in Wisconsin. A bit colder in temperature, but just as warm in the people. I hope big cities and suburbs never totally replace that kind of life.

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