I grew up in a small town in Illinois. This little town is called Galesburg. It’s a town that as soon as you go across the boarder you feel at home. Galesburg is really known for the underground railroad, the regular railroad and for the fact that President Lincoln grew up in a little town right near.
I loved growing up in this town, because everything is within walking distance. I can remember while I was growing up, my sister Betsy and I had our favorite places to go. Both of us were still relatively young so we had to ride our bikes, but Illinois in the summer isn’t bad.
In the afternoon during the summer, my sister and I would get on our bikes and go to one of the many places we loved. If we were in the mood we would go down our driveway and turn left, we would ride our little legs off until we reached our destination. The Maid Right. They had the best burgers ever. Their burgers were put together like a sloppy joe, but they put a secret ingredient in it, which to my surprise ended up being Coca-Cola. In my mind, though the best part about going here was spending the extra fifty cents, buying frozen Snickers, and eating it on the way home.
If my sister and I went right out of our driveway, we could go to the local doughnut shop, the Dairy Queen or a mom and pop shop called the Flavor Freeze. The Flavor Freeze still to this day is my favorite. All of their treats are homemade. Every time I went, I would get a crunch cone. It was simply a vanilla cone with nuts and sprinkles, anything sweet and crunchy ground on top.
The best memories I have of Galesburg, before my family moved, have to be the lightning bugs, playing with the neighbor kids and helping my mom build a tree house in the huge apple tree in the backyard.
In the middle of summer, my older brother and sister would take me out in our big grassy back yard and we would run like crazy catching as many lightning bugs as we could possibly catch. After we caught them, we would take them one by one, steal their lights, and put them all over our bodies. Sometimes the neighborhood kids would come over and play a game that involved every house on the block. However, I think one of the fondest memories of that place was building a tree house with my mom.
My mom got the idea to put a tree house in our apple tree, but this wasn’t a normal tree, it produced two kinds of apples. My mom put a bottom up in the huge branches and then made the walls out of cloth so it would be nice and cool. The best part though was the firemen’s pole made of PVC pipe and the homemade slide with a sand box made out of a tire at the bottom.
Despite all my fun here my dad had polio and the harsh winters were too much for him, so we decided top pack up and move to Arizona. I think this is where the story gets good. We left in a Rider truck with my mom as the driver and our two cats as the passengers. My dad and sister rode in the station wagon with no air conditioner and our big black dog in the black seat. Let’s just say once we got to Arizona we knew it.
Pulling into our drive was a crazy new feeling. I had never seen any of the things around me. In our front yard, there were tons of cacti and in the distance, Sedona and the amazing Mingus Mountain that is part of the Black Mountain range.
Growing up near Sedona was amazing. Waking up everyday to see those red rocks. Seeing that makes you appreciate life. I think my favorite though has to be Jerome Arizona. This is a mining ghost town. The best part of Jerome is its stories. Jerome is located on the side of Mingus Mountain and is known for its copper production. When Jerome was in its hay days it was an up and coming place, they had a high school, a jail and even a JC Penny’s. However, there is a problem when you build on the side of a mountain. The brand new JC Penny’s slid across the street. It slid so far that the people had to build a bridge to it. Once copper was not as needed, the mine closed down and Jerome died. It became known as a ghost town, but then, in the seventies the hippies brought back enough tourism to its stores that they reopened this little town. Now Jerome is still sliding but it is so beautiful. All of the old buildings and stories about how great it was put you in a different, more appreciative mood. It really makes you love the history around you.
Back in town, ten minutes from Jerome, is my hometown Cottonwood. Here is were I saw red dirt for the first time, found that you can’t walk barefoot, even in your home and that everything, no matter how pretty or ugly, has some type of thorn. Last but not least, that no children come out to play before 5 PM and you don’t go swimming after two.
I as an Illinois girl didn’t know how hot it was outside during the day, so I would go out to play and it would be dead. When I found this out, I decided to go swimming, but I would go at one or two, but to my surprise, in the summer you have to be early to beat the monsoons.
All of my years growing up here have been amazing. I may not have been born here, but I love it as if it is a part of me. I don’t think I could ever leave. I would miss the beautiful mountains, the Verde River running through town and the sun. I love the sun more than anything. I could sit out in its glory all day and soak up its heat.