My Roots are Small Town

My roots are small town
in a place that no one has ever heard of.
You’re from where?

It’s between Thunder Bay and Winnipeg.
4 ½ hours west of Thunder Bay.  3 ½ hours east of Winnipeg.
1, 200 people

We have a main street
With businesses on one side and a river bank on the other
Across the river is the United States.
When my friends and I wanted to go see a movie
We would drive half an hour
And go to Minnesota.

We would say, “We’re going across.”

Emo is a small town where you know everyone by name.
Brian is the butcher at the grocery store,
I went to school with his daughter Stacey.
Shirley was the librarian for years and a family friend.
The Loneys, The Mosbecks, Kaeminghs…
are all families that own businesses in town.

You know who has money,
Or think that you know.

People talk in small towns.
News is something that you get from the Circle D
A restaurant near the highway
It’s known for its morning coffee
and regulars who gossip.

People seem to know who has cheated
Who’s sleeping around
Who got laid off,
And who got pulled over by the cops on the weekend.

The names of people writing NSF cheques
Are posted at the cash register in the grocery store
The names of those charged on the weekend
are published in the local paper

You can’t get away with much
It’s a small town.

One bank
Tompkins Hardware
One drugstore
The insurance office
The Emo Legion
Ella’s Pizza
The laundromat
Meyer’s Clothing
The post office

That’s main street

Then there’s the arena
The curling rink
The liquor store
The OPP station
A hairdresser
Visser Auto
Three gas stations
One elementary school
And five churches.

This is Emo.
With a train track running right through the middle of town.

I lived in the country and envied those that lived in town.
Classmates could go to each other’s houses after school
I was the one running to catch my bus ride home.

I remember growing up wishing that one day
I could say that I lived at house number ____ on ____ street.
Instead, I told people that I lived out on the river road

Drive past Gerbers
Go around the big corner
Then just past Judson’s
you’ll turn left at the field.

When it was time to choose a university
I was completely fine going away from home
I didn’t want a re-do of high school and the same cliques
I wanted to meet new people and do my own thing

I left for a reason.

And yet I do find that I miss home.
I’m thankful that I grew up in a place where
People know each other by name
And do things for each other.

When I go home to visit
It’s fun to walk into the grocery store
And see people you know.
Every stop to run errands
Feels like a reunion

Emo is a place where family friends stop by
to visit unannounced
where people check in on the elderly
and know their neighbours.

I learned small town values
that will stick with me my entire life.
I hope it’s something that I can pass on
To our kids.

Despite living in a city.
I hope our neighbourhood to be home for them.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

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