Hometown America

by D.J. Wilson

America’s hometowns are nostalgic places where personal memories, history, traditions and customs converge.  Beyond their value as birthplaces, they are often associated with fond childhood memories of carefree times spent with family and friends.  Watching parades in town, going to the library, attending a church picnic, riding bikes or playing catch in the field may be some of the warm-hearted memories we cherish.  Growing up on Long Island, in the quaint hamlet town of Sayville, NY I enjoyed strolling along Main Street and glancing into the store windows.  The bakery in town sold cakes, pastries, breads and cookies.  We didn’t purchase bakery treats often, but I remember going there with my mother to wait in line for a cake.   At the counter, my mom unexpectedly treated me to a large and buttery chocolate chip cookie; triple the size of my hand.  Today, that giant cookie from my childhood evokes warm memories of the trip downtown with my mother.  Proudly, the pretty town of Sayville has largely maintained its charming retro appeal and continues to provide residents with a strong sense of community. Below are two examples of American hometowns which gracefully maintain their historical characteristics and delightfully embrace both past and present.

Louisville, Colorado– This early Welch Mine town was named for local landowner, Louis Nawatny.  In the early 1900’s, a large number of independent mining companies formed in the area.  As a result, miners from different companies lived in town.  In the summertime, when demand for fuel for heating lessened, the men had free time to play baseball and set up leagues to play in “Miner’s Field.”  Over time, the miner’s began striking over low pay, work hours and poor conditions.  The Hecla Mine of Louisville hired guards to watch the miners.  Whenever a frustrated miner shot at the compound, the guards responded by returning random fire on the town.  Although the last of the mines operating in Louisville closed in the 1950’s, the influence of the hardworking miners is still evident with many authentic wooden buildings aged over 100 years.  Five square blocks make up Historic Downtown Louisville and offer pure American ambiance amidst a thriving atmosphere.  There are a variety of pubs and award winning restaurants from which to dine.  Louisville embraces her love of music by featuring live performances most nights of the week.  The town also shares adoration for art, displayed in fine galleries, shows and exhibits throughout the year.  The public library was originally housed on the second floor of the old town hall building.  By the summer of 2006, a new 32,500 square foot library facility was built. The two-story building is considered a masterpiece of design, complete with a fireside reading room and underground parking.  The Louisville Historical Museum is comprised of four buildings constructed between 1904 and 1908.  Two are open to the public and feature a variety of artifacts and photographs to reflect the settlement and industry.  The main building was formerly known as the Jacoe Store and the smaller building is a coal miner’s house with a kitchen, bedroom and sitting room.  Both buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic places due to their historical architecture and cultural significance.  Nearby parks complete the town and offer championship biking trails.  Embracing her historical past, it’s easy to understand why Louisville, Colorado is often voted one of the most outstanding places to live in the United States of America.,

Wimberley, Texas – Artifacts such as flint chips and stone tools are reminders of this town’s earliest history when semi-nomads roamed the Texas Hill Country.  In the 1880’s, settlers became attracted to the area due to its rich natural resources and outstanding beauty.  William C. Winters arrived in the 1850’s.  This veteran of the Battle of San Jacinto settled his family in Glendale.  Winters built a saw mill powered by Cypress Creek and later built a grist mill.  Glendale then became known as Winters’ Mill.  During the Civil War, the community made charcoal and hauled bat guano used for making gun-powder for the Confederate Army.  After Winters’ passing, his son-in-law took over and the settlement was renamed Cude’s Mill.  In the 1870’s a generous man named Pleasant Wimberley moved with his family to Cude’s Mill.  He bought the mill and made contributions to the community’s schools and churches.  Eventually, the town became known as Wimberley.    By 1925, the mill was unable to keep up with competition as newer roads provided folks access to more modern mills.  Despite its closing, the community was established and continued to prosper overtime.  The arrival of electricity helped spur the population growth and the town became a magnet for artists.  The town square was improved and evolved into an important center of town activity.  Today, the area around the square is filled with unique shops and galleries, centered on the Old Towne Plaza.  The town, though sophisticated, maintains its rustic ambiance and provides unique artistic appeal.  Many older historical structures from the past remain intact for those who wish to see the sites. History buffs will enjoy a walk through the Wimberley Cemetery, located next to the First Baptist Church, which contains gravesites of early pioneers and veterans of the civil war.  Wimberley is known for its beautiful rivers, streams and wildlife.  The area is famed for its charming bed and breakfasts and beautiful resorts which surround the area.  During the first Saturday of every month, Market Days takes place at Lion’s Field.  Homemade goods to antiques are sold at this popular event.  The town also hosts an annual Pie Social and is held at the 150 year old Winters-Wimberley House.  Pies are sampled by everyone and a panel of judges selects a winner based on taste, presentation and other factors.  Nearby wineries, golf courses and a lavender farm complement the town.

Special places with hometown appeal are found all across our land.  It’s up to us to carefully preserve their charm for our future generations to enjoy.   Let us show our support by visiting towns deep-rooted in history which offer great American appeal.

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