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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



It’s that in between time of the year where mother nature can’t really decide if it is going to be Winter or move us towards Spring which makes me just a bit uncomfortable, mostly because if we are really headed towards Spring that means long hours in the field and that anxious feeling that there aren’t really enough hours in the day. When sleep becomes a premium the time change doesn’t help matters any and suddenly before I know it I’ve turned into a cranky old curmudgeon who needs hours just to lay in bed being quiet.

In those moments when I do find myself free as has been the case for a bit of the weekend, I’ve found that roaming around in the pages of the old Earlham and Stuart papers online. There is much to be gleaned from the scanned pages, both family information but also local history. I’ve especially been interested in discussion about the former Rock Island depots in our communities, and I’m not sure how but that lead me down a rabbit hole into the early days of roads and the heated debate about the White Pole Road and which towns were going to be left just on the edge of it.

If reading the comments of former editors and publishers of the local papers is any indication, it was quite evident that the towns in this area weren’t exactly on speaking terms. I noted many times there were rivalries outside of the sports realm that were stoked by the words of a newspaper writer. Someone got mad at Stuart and blamed it on someone in Dexter who then felt bad because Earlham felt that Dexter was against them as well. It all happened because one town was going to end up a mile or two off of the planned route that was laid out by the state. This was especially riveting reading when I noticed that even in 1927 there was talk of an interstate highways system which Dexter citizens wanted on the north side of the Rock Island tracks and Earlham wanted it south of their town site. Interesting reading for sure!

I suppose there have always been rivalries between our communities, some of which I understand as each publisher or editor was trying to promote their city as a progressive place in which to live and work. Perhaps more rivalries came from the old Earlham vs. Dexter football games and reading the accounts of those games certainly is interesting. I often wonder in the day of school mergers if we have lost some of the fun of those early days and the rivalries that have come through the years.

Today we may still see some of those old feelings well up from time to time, but maybe we are certainly a bit more noble and much more mobile which allows us to trade in different communities. I’m all for civic pride, something that I think we as small town citizens do not spend nearly enough time trying to promote, but I do think in a way we all have to be successful to survive. I know that the business owners in each of our towns aren’t really as concerned where you live, as long as you do business with them. In the end, it is the small town businesses that are there for us when we need them most. Oh sure, the prices may be a bit higher at times, but try getting the same customer service at a big mega store. The same goes for the local newspaper. You may not always agree with what gets printed, but if we didn’t have them the public would be less informed and more importantly future generations will certainly not have them as a source for their own journeys down memory lane. See you next week…remember, we’re all in this together.