Aunt Deane's house sits just outside the railroad tracks of that speck of a town.
She and I were on State Route 235, vigorously walking out to the stop light on "Old Route 25" and back. We'd
passed the pen and house that, in my youth, had kept and slaughtered buffaloes. A restaurant in the nearby small town
of Bluffton, served buffalo burgers and so that meat was fresh.
Aunt Deane's house is the "grand dame" of
Mt. Cory. Its elegance transcends time. Five acres of grass surround it. On three sides, corn fields protectively
wrap its grassy lawn. From the front of the house, one views the grain elevator across the street.
Aunt Deane loved to mow. She'd "gas up the rider" and get down to
the roaring business of assuring her house's yard met her--and really her mother's, for aren't we all products of the generations
that precede us?--high standards.
I feel Mt. Cory in the roar in my mind of Aunt Deane's
mower. I feel its lush stillness. Ha! A roaring mower takes me to a mental place of pure quiet! A place of shade
trees and dappled sun. Languorous afternoons of childhood daydreaming.
My Aunt Deane's roaring mental mower takes me to a place of freedom.
Deane's there, in my head, complainingly proud and seated on the rider. Back and forth she goes. Every
once in a while the roar stops with a screech as she puts her rider in reverse to attack a troublesome spot. Sometimes
the mower putt-putt-putts in my mind as Aunt Deane takes a contemplative moment to survey the work already done. But
mostly I see her resolute in getting the job done!
State Route 235 runs right in front of Deane's house and is Mt. Cory's
Main Street. There's a speed limit for the semi-trucks and cars barreling through town. It's rarely honored, But
there are few cars and fewer trucks and, so, Main Street is pretty much true to its peaceful reputation. With the exception
of the weekly volunteer fire station and squad's blaring of the siren, cricket chirps and bird songs are its background sound
Aunt Deane--the oldest of the twins
and number eight of eleven children--has lived in this town and in this house since she was fifteen. That's five years
after the death of her 42 year old father of a heart attack. He died in the fields; just keeled over and died after
working all day in the sun. He left his wife, my grandmother, alone to raise the last five of the children.
"Old Route 25" has never been young. It's never been new
and kicky and sassy. It's never had convenience stores and fast food restaurants lining its sides. With the exception
of Winnie's small gas station on the way to Findlay, there's not much to purchase on "Old Route 25."
But "Old Route 25" has got it some history. It's got stories
to tell about the lives of people living in the farm houses lining it--way back from the road-- Bluffton in one direction
and Findlay in the other. Maybe people dying there too. Right there--1967?--is where the house trailer blew up and killed
everybody inside. The boy who lost his toes in a lawn mower accident lives there.
"Cancer took him," my dad would say as he pointed to a house, almost as
if it was the house that had suffered the illness. "It was a long and valiant battle." I've since learned he'd gone
to high school with that cancer stricken man. "That woman there", my mother would add as she pointed to the house
in the opposite direction. "She died of cancer too." It was almost as if my parents spoke of the houses as
well as the people living and dying in them.
of billboards advertising easily attained divorces and "sue-anyone-for-anything" opportunities, "Old Route
25" had signs about Jesus. "Seek ye the Lord while He may be found:" and " He who hath the Son hath
life." are the two I remember.
I'm sad the Jesus signs are no longer
there. I miss them. Thank God, though, they've not been replaced with the ubiquitous lascivious attorneys, like in Miami,
smiling down at me with perfect teeth, perfect hair and perfect opportunities for them to get rich.
Aunt Deane and I, turn at
Old Route 25's stop light to walk back to her house, side by side on State Road 235.
The air is fresh. The sun is setting. It's all so beautiful. We both feel like running.