When I was a young boy, my mom let me buy a book in the Scholastic book order and I bought Mickey’s Magnet, a story about a little kid who discovers the power of magnets after he spills a box of his mother’s pins. A cheap little red and gray horseshoe-shaped magnet came with the book and I was hooked. I spent hours in my room fiddling and fooling around with the magnet, seeing what it would pick up, yes to my father’s nails, no to my little green Army men.
I ultimately learned that the little magnet worked great on iron, nickel and steel, not so great on other things like aluminum, copper or even glass. I haven’t played around with that magnet in decades, but I’ve learned in the years since that my hometown has its own magnetic like properties.
It pulls me home.
When I’ve spent too much time overlooking a sea of cubicles and am tired and stressed-out, I feel the Central Pennsylvania community where I grew-up and spent the first years of adulthood, calling me home.
The community names come flying back to my mind in an alphabet soup flurry: Allensville to Belleville; Belltown to Burnham; Greenwood Furnace to Granville, Lewistown to Milroy; Maitland to McVeytown; Reedsville to Siglerville; Strodes Mills to Yeagertown, and a million other little small townships and boroughs. Throw in Centre, Huntingdon, and Juniata Counties and most of the memories I have between birth and my early twenties begin circling in my head.