One year, when I was a child, we traveled through the midwest. My Dad was headed to a new job and I remember thinking how flat things were; nothing but prairies. Here and there were cattle ranches and the sound of trains off in the distance. Traveling through Nebraska and Kansas, the countryside seemed like one long wheat field. The scenery seldom changed and, to my childish eyes, there was nothing to see.
At the truck stops, old-timers were filled with stories of tornadoes carrying off cattle and children. My sister and I were petrified at the prospect. We had visions of great twisters and wicked witches chasing us across the prairies.
We woke up one evening in the backseat of the car, and discovered we were actually driving in a town. We hadn’t seen any towns in a while and this was a real treat. The only thing I knew about Gary, Indiana was a song from the Music Man that my parents sang. This town did not look like what I remembered on the screen, but at least it was a town.
My Aunt was there to greet us and showed us our new house. We were lucky enough to move into a home that she had owned. And, so we could refurbish the old place, she had actually obtained--with her own money and credit, a very inexpensive mortgage refinance. Indiana became home.
I have to confess that it was not the place of my dreams, at first. But, like my Aunt, the community was filled with salt-of-the-earth good neighbors and I eventually came to love them like family. I learned the meaning of trust and caring from wonderful people.
Although I moved away years ago, I remember Gary, Indiana with fondness, and sometimes, when apprehensive about the future, I find myself singing: ”Gary Indiana, Gary, Indiana, Gary-”
And faith returns.