1) There was nothing to do...EVER
2) I gotta get out...as soon as humanly possible!
3) Add 1 and 2 together and EVERYTHING HERE SUCKS!
Of course these were the thoughts of a young kid who just assumed the rest of the world had to be better than what we had growing up. Guess that whole "grass always being greener on the other side" business starts at an early age.
When I was really little we had a movie theater in which I saw half a movie before mom dragged me out screaming and crying. In my defense, if she had just kept feeding me junior mints, I would've been good for the whole showing of Bambi.
We had a corner bakery, where if we were really good and mom had some extra cash, my sister and I could get some delicious cookies. Or mom had extra cash and shoving cookies into our faces was the best way to get us to shut up.
I wasn't very old when both of these places went away, so there was literally nothing left to enjoy in our small, and getting smaller, town. Sure we had the parade and the 4th of July fireworks, Chautauqua Days, and we had the Porktoberfest, and Halloween. So there were a few days out of the year where we could engorge ourselves full of one kind of food or another. But the other 300 and some odd days...nothing.
We had to entertain ourselves, either playing in the ravine, tearing around town on our bikes, swimming at the local pool, or playing football in Witte's yard. We had Little League and some other Summer Recreation programs. Eventually we got out own recreation center to go lift weights, play basketball, swim during the winter time, among other things.
Thinking back on things, I guess things didn't suck as bad as I once thought. For a small town we had a lot of things to do, whether it was on our own, or through programs and facilities that a lot of people put in hard work dedicated to giving us kids, as well as adults, things to do right there in our own little burg.
One of the places that always been a stalwart of the community for the most part under a few different owners, in the recreation area, was Indian Lanes, our local bowling alley. Now I only used the bowling alley sparingly. I was usually using most of my money to load myself up on Dr Pepper from the local Casey's, as if my hyperactive self wasn't already too much for some people to handle before the caffeine infusion. But it was always a place where adults could go and have their adult fun with friends, and still bring their kids who could play arcade style games, or you know, bowl a few frames.
I was recently back in Sac City for Christmas with my wife and my sons to see my parents as well as my sister's family who was up visiting from Florida. My best friend, Jed was also out with his family from Wyoming, along with his younger brother Jeremiah and his family coming up from my neck of the woods, to celebrate with the oldest brother Josh and his family. They did a family gift exchange at the bowling alley, which I had learned was now being operated by Josh and his wife, and I think along with a certain guy named Joe Zimmerman. I make the claim of Joe based on the fact that they have a Notre Dame flag hung up on a wall, and Joe is the only person I know who is truly a Notre Dame fan. Other than that small blemish (Sorry Joe!), the place looks pretty good.
Now Joe has always been the kind of guy who was made for small town living, and many days I can't blame him despite my living in the Des Moines metro area. I like to go back to my hometown just to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Joe did his time out of the area, but as expected he came back to his roots and his family and friends. Joe is always a friendly guy with a big goofy grin, a joke waiting on his lips to tell you, and a big old hug. I love the guy.
Josh Burns on the other hand... He was the big brother from another mother, the guy I loved to hate and hated to love. He was always there to put me in my place when I needed it, and also to pick me up when I needed that. He really is a chip off the old block that is his father, Monte, who I always regard as my 2nd dad. Monte always made time for us boys, and for everybody else, both personally, as well as being a longtime baseball coach for a multitude of kids who grew up in Sac City. Josh and I were never as close as Jed and I were, but he was always around. I never knew what his plans for life were, when he went off to college in Missouri, but he came back to live and work in the area. And now he runs the bowling alley. Like his dad, he's doing his part to help keep the small town of Sac City going.
Some people reading this may see Indian Lanes as just one business in a small town in the middle of nowhere. But to some of us who grew up there, it's nice to see that some places and some people are still there, just as they always were. And when you can find a place for the whole family to spend some fun time together for a few hours without breaking the bank, you want to keep that in any community. I think Indian Lanes fills that role. So if you get a chance, go to Indian Lanes, say hello to the owners, grab a bite to eat and something to drink, and bowl a few games. I promise you wont regret the fun time you'll have and you will support a locally owned business stick around for everyone there now and those to come.