Jack Simpson


Things seemed much simpler once. Right now it seems all we hear about is sheltering at home, a raging pandemic, scaled back public gatherings , fewer celebrations, face masks and protests.

I remember when I was a young teen living in a small Pennsylvania coal mining town how it was on a Saturday when people came in from their homes in rural areas to do their shopping at the A&P or American Store. They may have shot a game of pool at the local pool hall or bowled a game at the small two-lane bowling alley or they ate in one of the two local restaurants or at a pizza joint. The two local movie theaters were popular, and walking the streets meeting and greeting friends was a good way to pass time and socialize if you didn’t hit a local bar for refreshments.

There were two clothing stores where you could buy a suit to wear to church and funerals.

As a young preteen, I recall enjoying a walk about town. I wore a snap-brim hat with a ring-necked pheasant feather tucked in the hat band.

I put a leash on my pet raccoon, Muggsy, and we went about town calling attention to ourselves! Muggsy would often climb up my leg and sit on my shoulder. People stopped to greet us, and we met many new friends in this way.

It was a peaceful, friendly place with none of today’s headline-making stories or a health pandemic.

As things are going, it may be years before we see again how it once was in small town America. But, we are making progress and when all our citizens share equal rights under the Constitution and a cure is found for the deadly coronavirus, perhaps we can again drop into the local drug store, sit at the soda fountain for a Coca-Cola or ice cream sundae with the good feeling we once shared in small town America.

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Jack Simpson is a former educator, a veteran, an author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each week in the weekend edition of this newspaper.

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