The Good Old Days can stay good

This weekend is Good Old Days.
Where I grew up, Richmond, Michigan, the weekend after Labor Day is always Good Old Days weekend. It’s our small town fair, home to the outhouse races, various demolition derbies, carnival rides, and what was once the largest parade in Michigan.
I always go back for Good Old Days. On Saturday I offered to help a mom of one of my friends with the children’s parade, which is the smaller parade. The large parade is Sunday.
At the end of the children’s parade is a truck with a ping pong ball shooter. It shoots hundreds and hundreds of ping pong balls as it goes down Main Street, and each ping pong ball has a prize on it. So after walking sponsor banners in the parade, we all go down to the prize tent to help hand out prizes to all of the kids who bring the ping pong balls back.
When I tell other people about Good Old Days, they’re always surprised that I want to go back for the weekend. Most of them say that they would never want to go back to their home town. But I love it.
It’s called Good Old Days for a reason. For one weekend I and other people who grew up as a Richmond Blue Devil venture back and relive our ‘good old days’ for one weekend.
Since our school year always started the day after Labor Day, we usually had only two days of school before the Good Old Days festivities started. It was an easy start to the year, and an end-of-summer celebration. Instead of going home after school, we would walk over to Beebe Street Park where the fairgrounds are. Even if we just played on the playground or walked the midway, it was always a good place to be with your friends.
I still have things I won as prizes from throwing darts at balloons, and the dress I wore when I was on the court for Little Miss Richmond. This year I even get to celebrate my best friend’s little sister, who is on the Miss Richmond court.
Saturday night I usually go with my friends to the beer tent. I don’t drink, but it’s always a fun place to see old classmates or neighbors or parents of friends or your own family. The large tent is always packed from wall to wall with people.
On Sunday, we’ll have the large parade, which lasts well over an hour most years. Everyone has their spots along Main Street. As a kid, my dad and I would take patio chairs down to the corner in front of the old church and tie them all together and to the lamp post. We only lived one street away, and we had the same spot every year the whole time I lived there.
Now, I join my husband’s family in front of laundry mat, which is only across the railroad tracks.
I think something I try and explain to everyone is that going back to where you came from doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Sure, there are plenty of people who didn’t like their town, didn’t like their high school, didn’t like their classmates. But this is the place where I grew up. And there’s nothing wrong with remembering all of the good times and good things without having to negate them with the bad things.
There are good and bad things that happen in every chapter of your life, but like all of my classmates and friends and neighbors, I’m going to go back and remember the good old days like the bad days never happened. And I’ll celebrate the small town that raised me and many of the people I love with a walk down Main Street, over the railroad tracks where I counted train cars from the school bus window.

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