A while ago, I wrote a little piece on my return trip to Berger, Missouri, where I spent the first ten years of my life. It had been twenty years since I really stopped to take a look at how the town had changed.
I set out on a walk down Market (Hwy. B), with my camera in hand. And I was quickly reminded of how much time had passed when a man standing near the old Woodshed stopped and shouted across the street: Where are you from?
It was in that moment that I realized: Either he or I that had changed. Because in a town of 200 people, that's just not a question that gets asked much.
My response, of course, was: Here.
The visit was bittersweet. A lot had changed. But then again, a lot had stayed the same, too.
And many of you shared some wonderful stories in the comments to that piece. The stories spanned decades and generations, but in the end, each person shared one common interest: home.
That being said, those same comments reminded me that I still have a few photos of Berger that I've been meaning to share. These photos are from a book my dad purchased when it was published, back in the 1970s. The book was a project done by a group of journalists from my alma mater, the University of Missouri-Columbia. As the book states inside its front cover, exactly twenty-six photojournalism students descended onto Berger during the 1976 Labor Day weekend. Their task was to document a way of life in the river town. What they created was a beautiful, and now historic, depiction of life in Berger during that time.
And I love these photos because it's easy to forget the life this small town still quietly holds. When taking a stroll down its sidewalks today, it's easy to forget that there are whispers and secrets and laughter from generations constantly bouncing off its walls and streets and river bottom dirt. But I think, most of all, these photos remind me of just how much the little town where I grew up and that old saying have in common: The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Regardless of your generation, when you close your eyes, is this how you see home?
Read my previous piece on Berger here.
I write about rain on tin roofs, gravel roads, old trucks with holes in the floorboards and small-town summer nights. I grew up on a farm in a little Midwestern town. Now, I live in Kansas City, Mo., with my weatherman husband.
Laura Miller's first contemporary romance novel, Butterfly Weeds, hit the Amazon Best-Seller's List and Top 100 in October 2012. The sequel to Butterfly Weeds, My Butterfly, released in June 2013. For All You Have Left, By Way of Accident, When Cicadas Cry and A Bird on a Windowsill followed. Look for The Life We Almost Had, Laura's latest small-town romance, at book retailers now. And check out her children's book, Pay It Forward!