Autumn2Remember (autumn2remember) wrote in wordware,
Autumn2Remember
autumn2remember
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The Square

The Clay County Courthouse stands majestically in the middle of a perfect square, formed by four brick streets. Back again in my home town, I look around, and nothing has changed.  Lining the other side of the streets are little shops with old fashioned facades: a pharmacy, a soda shop, an antique store, a shoe cobbler, a flower shop and a cafe.  The city has grown all around and has managed to become a respectable size, full of suburban paradises like WalMart, Target, McDonalds and Home Depot, with traffic jams and construction, strip malls and sports bars. But still juxtaposed neatly in the center of the modern suburb is the old town center from the late 1800's which we so lovingly refer to as "The Square."

The square has the look and feel of a sincere little town, and  when you sit at the sidewalk cafe sipping coffee, you can imagine that time stands still... that nothing has changed since the days that the courthouse was first built.  The place has an eerie, otherworldly quality to it and resembles a movie set more than a real place.  If you spend to much time reflecting on this fact, it can become haunting, as if the ghosts of a hundred souls are still lingering in this very calm and simple place, wondering when the horse & carriages were replaced by Fords and Chevys. 

And obviously I wasn't the only one who felt this way.  It was here that Stephen King had chosen to film "Sometimes They Come Back". Although it wasn't a good movie, it was our movie, and the town remembered the excitement of it all. It would become another of the towns confessions, part of it's saga to be romanticized and retold over and over, like Jesse James robbing the bank, or Joseph Smith being imprisoned in the jail before the Mormons were run out of town.  It all happened here, on this very square.  Yes, this is a historic place, and a special place. 

It is here that the townsfolk to gather three times a year for celebrations.  Festivals to commemorate the town's past, and to build it's future.  The streets are blocked off to become a bustling marketplace of craftsmen, bootleggers and honest farmers, selling their wares off of card tables and under tents.  The smell of funnel cakes, barbecue and kettle corn are enough to make us dizzy, and the anxious vendors take advantage, haggling until they succeeded in winning our money. The city parking lot has been transformed into a carnival with teacup rides and skee ball, and children walk with their oversized cotton candies and flavored shaved ice, stumbling along as they look around in amazement. 

Teenagers hide behind buildings, sharing drags off of a single cigarette, taking swigs from a bottle of cactus juice, and stealing kisses when the adults weren't looking.  Some sneek off behind the bushes to smoke weed while others go to the plaza area by the fountain to see  their friends' band perform Fugazi covers at the talent show.

In the late afternoon, in front of the Jesse James bank, the past and present collide when Jesse James and his gang rob the bank again, in broad daylight, horses running and shots being fired. They get away with the loot, triumphing once again.  The crowd cheers and applauds and I smile thinking of the sense of pride we have over a criminal act. 

And as the day winds down into evening, and as darkness begins to blanket the streets, the townsfolk begin moving towards the college, careful not to trip in the ruts left on campus by the Civil War.  Once across campus, everyone sits at the football field  and watches fireworks overhead.  Children grasp at their mothers hands while their fathers point,  boys slip their arms around girls, and the world focuses their faces to the sky.  As I watch the brilliance overhead, I realize something. Beyond the history, beyond the people, beyond the festivals and activities, there is something magical here...  Something that brings everyone together and turns a town into a community. No other place I've lived has had this feeling about it.  It's what makes my heart ache when I'm away, it's something I cannot find elsewhere, and cannot replace.  There is no place in LA like this, or any other place I've been to for that matter. Then I hear the words loud in my head,  "This town has a heart, and it's in the shape of a square"... and I know it's true. 

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