As published in the White River Current - Thursday February 26, 2015
I was born in Calico Rock, a long time ago. A lot of the Rambling’s columns have been about my growing up in a small town in the Ozarks, population about one thousand, more or less. I’m too lazy to go back and read all the stories that have come to my mind while I am sitting at the computer, hammering out a page about my escapades while I was a youth. Amazing to me, but very often someone still comes up to me and comments about my column. A few even say that they enjoy it. This is episode No. 76 and I hope to make it to No. 100 which may occur in early 2016. Times have changed a lot over the last eight decades. Small towns have many of the same problems that large cities do, except their problems may be, well, smaller. Survival depends on how the communities adjust to the changes. For instance, in Calico Rock employment opportunities are fewer, the average age of our citizens has increased, several businesses have closed, but, on the bright side, some new businesses have opened and the census is at an all-time high. When I was in business, quite often I remarked that I enjoyed living in Calico Rock. I liked the friendly people, I enjoyed my church, and, in many ways, it was the ideal community to raise a family; if only, I would continue to say, we were closer to a metropolitan area. I have since become convinced that our location is just about right. Almost fifteen years ago, Anita and I began spending most of our time in Ozark, Missouri, six miles south of Springfield, the third largest city in Missouri, behind Kansas City and St. Louis in population. We sold our motor home and moved into my Aunt’s home when she was admitted to a nursing facility. Eventually we built a new house in a small subdivision in Ozark, sold the Calico Rock home where we had resided for over 45 years and settled into life in Missouri. We found a church and Sunday school and made many new friends. We had great neighbors, all of which were young, working adults with small children. We were within five miles of three Wal-Mart Supercenters. Battlefield Mall was a short distance away as were restaurants, theaters and a plethora of other places willing to supply their services and merchandise in exchange for an agreed upon amount of currency. Life was good…for awhile. After our last grandchild graduated from high school and left for college, we stopped, took a deep breath and took stock of our situation. The enjoyment of attending the grandkids ball games, wrestling matches and family get-togethers had suddenly ceased. We both decided the time had come to go “home.” We sold our home in Ozark, took the money and built a new residence near the Calico Rock hospital and have happily settled in for the duration. We both miss the friends and family that we left back in Missouri, especially the great-grandchildren that have come along since we were there. We do not miss the heavy traffic, rude drivers and the general fast pace of life. We are convinced we made the right decision. We tried it, sorta liked it but like it better here. We see new people move into our area quite often, coming from the North, South and other areas of the U.S. I’ve often wondered why they decided to move to this small town in such a rural area, so I plan to ask some of them, and if they will give me permission I will report my findings in a future column. A couple of weeks ago, Angelia Roberts, a Calico Rock HS graduate who is Executive Director of Ad/Ed for the Batesville Guard newspaper, posted a very well written column for her publication that she entitled “Pulling Together.” The subjects of her article were Calico Rock residents, Gene and Reva Lockie. The Lockies were married 68 years ago at the Little Brown Church in the Vale which is located about ten miles from Gene’s birthplace in Charles City, Iowa. Angelia writes that during a trip to Calico Rock several years later the couple happened to visit Lover’s Leap where they watched the White River wind between the bluffs and the farmland below. Reva turned to Gene and remarked that her dream was to someday see that view for the rest of her life. That became a reality in 1987 when they purchased the bluff home that became their permanent residence a year later. Two people from “off” that have helped make Calico Rock a better place to live.