The City of Buchanan: Population 4,800. Settled in 1833 and named for James Buchanan, the fifteenth president of the United States. Cradled amongst the gentle hills of Southwestern Michigan.

Anthology: A random miscellany of stories. Eight tales plucked from myriad recollections of an idyllic childhood in a quintessential small town in Midwest America during the years following the end of World War II (1945–1965). Names only half-heartedly changed to protect the innocent.

Growing up in a bucolic environment so charming that my sister and I still go back and drive the old roads from time to time just to reassure ourselves that it actually existed–not just some romantic figment of the imagination.

Peek in the windows of Colvin school. Deserted. Desks stacked up in the corner. Nothing changed inside in fifty years. Spooky. Wait–is that an old rubber snow boot with metal clasps up the front that I see in there?

Doors to our homes were never locked. Everybody’s kids were all over the neighborhood all the time. No one worried about them unless they were late for dinner. Everybody’s dogs ran loose. Telephone party-lines–listen in on your neighbors’ conversations. No fast food–Mom cooked for the whole family, and anyone else we might bring home. Every evening. Milk delivered to your door in glass bottles with cardboard caps. Fresh baked goods-delivered to your door by the bread man. Getting in trouble at the Oronoko Methodist Church. Watermelon eating contests with the Boy Scouts. Building the new church with all the neighbors. Water skiing on the brown water of the St. Joe River. Baling hay and straw in the summer. Getting sunburned on the shores of Lake Michigan at Warren Dunes. Spending the whole day playing in the woods. Picking cherries on twenty-foot ladders–eat as much as you pick. Have seed-spitting contests. Fresh-picked, crisp apples right off the wagon when the brisk days of autumn set in. One- room school houses–with outhouses. “Olli olli oxen free” over the roof of the Miller schoolhouse during recess. Gravel roads. Ice in the winter. Mud in the springtime. Friday night dates to Silver Beach and the 31 drive-in theater in Niles. The Sweet Shop. White Christmases.

I’m sure I’ve gotten some of it wrong. But this is how I remember it.

Oh yeah, and if you haven’t guessed by the end of the first story, that Charlie character is me.

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