I grew up in Minerva, Ohio. It is a small town (technically a village) and is situated on US Route 30. Along Rt. 30 there are many other little towns that look quite similar. They typically have a Dairy Queen or dairy bar, a few banks, some churches, a park or two, perhaps a red brick school with a playground and of course, houses that resemble those in and around Minerva. To a small child who lives there, these other little “burgs” probably look very much like home to them.
Such was the case with my youngest niece, Juliann, my sister’s daughter. She is now 13 and would probably hate that I’m telling stories about her as she is at “that age” — you know, the age where you can get the death stare AND a bear hug all within the span of 5 minutes. Anyway, I’m willing to take the risk.
One glorious, fall afternoon my parents decided to take little Juliann with them for a ride in the country. She was about 4 or 5 at the time. They have a Jeep Wrangler and it was the perfect kind of day for leaving the top off, loading up their granddaughter and Sadie (their golden retriever) and heading out.
As is popular to do in this region of the country that time of year, they planned on doing some “leaf peeping.” They drove around for hours on country roads gazing at the stunning fall foliage and soaking up us much of the color and warm sunshine that they could before winter crept in. And although I can’t say for certain, I’ll bet they stopped at one of those dairy bars and had a hotdog and an ice-cream cone or sundae on their autumn adventure.
Coming home, they drove through several small towns near and along Rt. 30 and as they passed through each one, my dad would hear a tiny little voice from directly behind him in the backseat utter the question: “Are we in Minerva NOW, grandpa?” Dad would answer: “No, not yet Juliann, this is… <insert name of aforementioned look-a-like burg here>… but we will be soon.”
Somewhere along the way, as kids do after a day in the sun and wind and with a tummy full of ice cream, Juliann fell asleep. When she awoke they were FINALLY driving through Minerva. My dad, assuming that she would be very excited to be home at last, asked her: “Where are you NOW, Juliann?” And her answer was priceless…
“I’m right BEHIND you, grandpa!”