So many years ago – right before the bi centennial. A couple of young kids came home from Germany. Rentals were few and far between in Gardner. They had a couple of cats and a dog. Places to rent with a dog were even harder to come by. So we went on down the road and landed in Edgerton. Mr Churchman took pity on us and rented out a half a duplex.
That duplex had light that shone over the top of a few of the walls, and if you spoke loudly about what you wanted for breakfast, you might just hear a reply from the people on the other side.
But the young couple stayed, and in a couple of years they bought a house on Nelson St.
I knew nothing about owning a house or mowing lawns or pretty much anything. But there were neighbors.
Jo and Ray Braun lived behind us. Of course, Ray owned the local gas station and Jo, well she was his partner in everything.
Between the Braun’s and the Rebman’s, who lived across the street, they guided us into home ownership, lawn care, gardening and later raising kids.
When the tornado sirens sounded, I would look out and see Ray scanning the skies, garage door open. And after I ran across the yard with my
son, I would find Jo waiting in the basement.
When I was a young mom at home with little kids, Ray would come pick up my vehicle for oil changes and bring it back when it was done. I am pretty sure Jo ran for car parts when he needed them.
So when the news recently hit that Edgerton wanted the Braun’s old half car removed, it struck a nerve. Why? It’s only an old junk car.
Well to me, it may be metal, but to me it stands for much more.
It is a reminder of a man who owned a business in Edgerton. A couple who lived and raised their kids there. They went to church in Edgerton and actively participated in all the things that went on in town. Parades, elections, pancake feeds and city offices. Plus all the things that they did for people, that went unspoken.
I look at that car and hear Ray Braun telling me about life in Edgerton when he was a young man. I see Jo walking to the church to sweep snow off the steps or working in her garden.
I know there were many good people in town, and they still are. These happen to be the ones who neighbored me when I was a young adult.
I am betting when other people see that car, it evokes a memory for them also.
Maybe of a parade or celebration or of the Brauns.
City statutes have prevailed, the council has voted to remove the old half car. I still have my memories. I can keep those.
ButI will miss the reminder, of a small town where people spent their whole lives, living good lives.
Half-car evokes memories of days gone by