Going Home by Brian Crocker

Going Home

Brian Crocker on Hometown Reunions & the End of All Our Foes

I turned west off Michigan highway 64 and onto Main Street just as the sun was setting Thursday evening, one day before the reunion was scheduled to begin. With the closing of the mine in 1995 and the dissolution of the school district in 2003, the sun setting on the town seemed to be an apt metaphor. Most of the remaining population of my old hometown is retired, since those too young to retire or who had school-age children had to relocate to find gainful employment and schools. There are a number of homes—many of them built by the Copper Range Company in the 1950s—used as vacation and recreation homes by people from Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan, but the year-round population is mostly old and quiet.

Those old, quiet folks who remain, however, do keep their homes maintained. It's not unusual to see a well-kept house with a very neatly mowed and landscaped lawn next to a vacant, decaying house with a lot full of weeds. And both the elementary and high school buildings are at best minimally maintained for use as storage space for recreational vehicles and boats for those "out-of-towners," or for old, accumulated equipment that may or may not prove useful someday to someone. Spacious buildings that once held apartments, a grocery store, a teen center, and even a small shopping center now hold little more than darkness, dust, and stale air.

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