You don’t have to hear many words from me to figure out that I ain’t from around here. I was born and raised in Tennessee. If I get a paper cut, the resulting blood is orange. However, I recently relocated to the village of Dover along with my family. The reasons behind this move are geo-economic. Johnsons have never shied away from picking up stakes to find a better situation.
I am not a stranger to the area. My stepmother is a Princeton native, and we have visited here a number of times throughout the years. I have also heard many stories from my Grandpa Duffield about the Princeton Inn, the Tuesday and Friday Brothers, and a former editor of this publication — Theodore (Ted) Duffield. Nonetheless, if you hear me say one word, my accent will let you know that I am a foreigner.
Despite that, folks have been warm and welcoming here in Bureau County. I am very appreciative of that. I am also not surprised. Rural America is hospitable, whether you are in Illinois, Tennessee or California. I don’t know why exactly, but it is an observable fact.
That does not mean there aren’t differences. For example, in Tennessee it can be difficult to get a drink and a good meal in small towns. Here, there are several great bars and restaurants no matter the size of the town. My brother recently brought his family for Thanksgiving and was visibly angry that there are such high quality restaurants as opposed to the beer-less eateries in his hometown of Crossville, Tenn.
Of course, there is the issue of weather. In Tennessee snow is viewed more like an invading army than a minor event. If 2 inches accumulates, the schools close, and all the milk and bread immediately disappears from the shelves at the grocery. I understand people up here are much more prepared for winter weather.
Even though the people at McDonald’s cannot figure out whether I want “Iced tea” or “Hi-C” to drink, I am enjoying my new home. I look forward to getting to know more and more people in communities across the county.
Derek Johnson of Dover can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.