With a population of approximately 4,000 people, Baldwin is classified as a village, seems like a growing city, but in reality it is a good ol’ Midwest small town. It is made up of families that have called this place home for generations, newer community members that are still getting settled in and everything in between.
Regardless of whether you plan to hang your hat here for a while or this is just a stop on a map to another destination, you are part of Baldwin’s story. Small towns have their own heartbeat no matter how many people come and go. I am a believer that Baldwin’s pulse is the strongest during the summertime.
Gatherings like Windmill Days provide lasting memories. I do think the area is enjoyable year round, even though I am not a huge fan of our long winters. Somehow every year I make it through the frigid weather. I like the perfect temperatures and colored leaves of fall and I appreciate spring blooms. What really warms my heart though, is a summer evening. Like John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John sang in a popular 1978 Grease song, “Oh those summer nights.”
We used to spend summer nights with the radio blasting, driving from one end of town to the other, where we would turn around just to drive it again. We would stop at the Standard Station where an attendant would pump our gas, check our oil and wash the windshield. While we sat receiving the royal gas station treatment, a car full of teens from a neighboring town might speed past, antagonizing us to chase them down.
Every hour or so, we would stop at “the tracks” to see if it was a night where a gathering might be held in a local field. If the fields were a bust for the night, other shenanigans would take place.
I remember a wicked cool game of hide and seek taking hours after members of the old gang found the ultimate hiding spot. They were able to convince a police officer (who shall remain nameless) to let them hide in the back of his squad. We spent most of the night trying to avoid the area where they were hiding.
Another time we drove to a “haunted house” just outside of town. The girls were dared to run laps around the spooky dwelling. While we ran full of fear, the boys disconnected the battery of my Chevy Beretta that had hauled us out to the site. We heard a loud bang and attempted to leave, but we climbed into a “stalled vehicle.” When our panic turned into blue mascara filled tears, the pranksters finally fessed up.
Many nights contained singing, laughing and howling at the moon. Other nights were more quietly spent watching the sunset over an area lake, skipping rocks and sharing our dreams for the future.
I find it pretty interesting that I spent the first half of my life driving up and down a small town main street, trying to figure out how I was going to get out of that boring place and the second half of my life contains moments where I drive from one end of a small town to the other before pulling in front of my office, so I can soak up the last of a good song on the radio, listing all the reasons in my mind that I never want to leave a small town.
As the air turns balmy heading into summer, I feel a little excitement. After the big Windmill Days celebration coming up, there is no doubt summer has officially begun. I intend to take full advantage of whatever summer has to offer. My challenge to you is to do the same.
I hope in the craziness of ordinary everyday life, you take a moment to grasp onto the enjoyment a summer night has to offer. In the least, take a moment to reflect on the bliss of a small town summer night of the past.
I enjoy sharing my thoughts with you and look forward to readers sharing their thoughts in return.
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery WI. 54001 or I can be reached by phone at 715-268-8101.