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It was a great place to grow up--locked in the 20th century rise and fall of small-town empires. Marshall always seemed to have been a population of 7,000 residents. I never understood where all those people lived because I knew the residents of practically every house within the city limits. I grew up honoring Marshall's pioneers, awed by their outbursts of conquest and commerce, which spawned our affluence and intellect. It was a great place to be a good neighbor. Just ask any of our neighbors.


Life marched on. I left for college and never looked back until I returned with my own family. To share the innocence of the coming of age, Mayberry, My Mayberry captured their hearts, too. The Fountain still graces the town circle, and it needed a facelift, like so many of its aging population. The famous Schuler's Restaurant & Louie's Bakery remain the anchors of 20th-century fanfare for the common man. But political correctness wormed its way into the local customs, and the beloved REDSKINS high school mascot was replaced by the less offensive REDHAWKS - along with a new school campus. Is the quality of its education any better? Show me the data.


Today, a marijuana processing plant south of the Fountain is the primary industry. Does it employ as many as the Eaton factory in its prime? Did the good old days smell better than the suspect dank, nasty odor from cooking weed? I wish time could stand still, complete with an immaculate reinvention of a microcosm from the annals of Americana. The future looks bright for Marshall, despite the reminder that all politics start locally. There's a casino eight miles to the west, and the rumor why GOOGLE passed on this fair city still stings in the rejection. The school board, city council, and historical society are all changing guards; moving progressively 'forward.'


Nevertheless, the restored 19th-century homes within a designated historic landmark district create a handsome backdrop for tomorrow's generations. It's a town still small in many ways, but on the rise, showing no signs of decline or collapse. Preservation does not always capture the ways our hearts remember the past. But Marshall, My Mayberry, still makes a lasting first impression--Mary Jane notwithstanding.


March 18, 1968

My Marshall Chronicles