July has arrived and summer knows it. It is either hotter than ever…or I am older than ever…or a combination of the two. MJ and I did our Aldis Shopping this morning and it dawned on me that Aldis has become our primary market. For a small store, it has a fantastic variety of goods…and they are priced right. Aldis is Addictive! Then it was off to see Larry, of Electric Larrys, whose birthday is this weekend. Aaron, Jonathon, and I have been shopping at ELs since he opened and find the most eclectic paraphernalia and collectibles I have seen in many years. He is headed for a Canoe Birthday…and I say Happy Birthday…Larry! So…not to let the day waste…which is a primary concern for each day of my retirement. I pointed the Forester towards Elkville.
I moved to Elkville the morning after I graduated High School at Eldorado. Many of my friends lived there and I attended a little non-denominational church in the Village. I literally lived in the church for a few weeks until I could procure a rental property. The Christian Faith captivated my imagination…and it still does. My family knew the pastor of the little church and he adopted me as a surrogate son he and his lovely and kind wife, Mickey, were some of my favorite people. I wanted to become a minister. I still think it is one of the most important jobs and callings a woman or man can fulfill. Many members of my extended family attended the church. Three aunts and some cousins were among them. I met my good buddies, Steve and Faye, in Elkville and he and I had many exciting adventures. Jeff and Margo were a part of the little church…and we have enjoyed an over 50-year friendship. When I began I was one of only two young people in a church of primarily senior citizens. I loved the old people…and they took to me like a grandson.
I lived in Elkville for over twice as long as Eldorado. MJ and I raised Aaron and Jonathon in the confines of the little peaceful…Village. MJ Home Schooled for many years in order that I could have some quality time with our sons. I worked as the night manager of Building Services for over 12 years of their budding youth. MJ is a saint! Grandpa Hickam and Grandma Fernie lived just a few blocks away. Grandpa H. would come to our door…unannounced and peer through the glass pane in the door. When I was working the 3rd shift…Grandma Fernie would call our home at 9:00 in the morning… and when I answered in a weary voice…she would ask, ‘Jay…you are not still in the bed…are you?’
Karen and Carol Dean let me ride with them to our mutual job at Essex International in DuQuoin, Illinois. This was my first full-time job and I made $16 dollars per week. I was working at about this time in the summer of 75′ and many of the women on the production lines were fainting from heat exhaustion. I told the Personnel Manager when he was showing me the facility after he hired me…that I would be purchasing my lunch from the machines in the Commissary. He advised me that I might want to consider bringing my lunch as I would not be making enough money to buy it.
Many of my years at SIUC…I lived in Elkville. About a year after I was hired in 1978…Steve was hired and we shared car rides for several years. When I became a Presbyterian…we lived in Elkville and did not move for another three years to Carbondale. I drove Route #51 so many times that I often did not know just exactly where I was on the Route. As I walked the streets of Elkville…today…I was at home.