Steve Meador is the author of Throwing Percy from the Cherry Tree, a poetry book that was an entrant for a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. He is widely published in online and print journals. He has been a real estate broker since the early 1980s and currently lives and practices in the Tampa, FL, area.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sometimes the task at hand requires blending the current with the past. Sometimes it requires having a blend of levity and somber, without a maudlin aura. My wife asked me to come up with something to say at her class reunion, during the remembrance of lost classmates. I had no clue how to go about it. I had some appointments in Tampa, about 25 minutes away, that I was getting ready drive to. Backing down the driveway I turned on the radio and John Mellencamp's Small Town began to play. For whatever reason, it was all I needed and before I got the first appointment the piece was complete. Sometimes we get lucky and it happens that quick. Sometimes it never comes to us at all. The hardest part was coming up with a title!

Something For My Wife’s Class Reunion

“Well I was born in a small town
And I can breathe in a small town
Gonna die in this small town
And that's prob'ly where they'll bury me”

lyrics from Small Town
by John Mellencamp

That was the ideal idea of life when we were young,
to spend our whole lives among family and friends.
But somewhere along the way the ideal lost its appeal
and we scattered to places well beyond Cleveland,
Dayton or Ft. Wayne. Whether it was careers or loves
or the feeling that a small town could not contain
all we had to offer the world, many of our classmates
brushed off their small town dust and moved on.

Some have moved on the greatest distance of all.
It may not always be easy to remember the names,
or whether they were jocks or nerds or bandies or hoods,
or any of the other labels so abundant in those days.
But we will remember their smiles and faces,
from playgrounds, bowling alleys, ball fields and hallways.
That is how the mind works, it recalls the innocence,
the fragile times, the good times,
the times when we all planned to never leave. But we do leave

and we hope these are the words from those still around,
“Oh, I remember him, or her, we were both from the same small town.”

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