I spent my childhood growing up in Wilton, ND. Wilton is a rural community of about 1000 people just north of Bismarck. It was founded as a mining town, hence the mascot Miner. You could ride your bike around the entire town in about 30 minutes (give or take a few minutes based on wind and the type of bike). It also depended on whom you ran into. It was a town full of friendly people.
Riding bike is exactly what we did though. I’m not sure why this has now become a lost method of transportation, but our parents did not drive us everywhere back in the day. Riding bike to the park to find a pick-up game of basketball was a common occurrence during the spring and summer months. As people walked or drove by we greeted them by name, and they often stopped to watch. We rode our bikes everywhere. I remember that a typical highlight in the day would be a ride up to the local Herner’s Mini-Mart to grab a refreshing soft drink and treat.
There was so much to do that we had little time to spend in doors watching TV. That is the last thing we wanted to do. If we were in doors, we spent it playing Nintendo on the rented console and games from Herner’s. If you were lucky enough to snatch this up – you catapulted yourself into the cool-kid category in a hurry.
Speaking of cool, we gopher hunted at the city park and got paid to do it. We gathered at our friends house to play glow in the dark football. We played baseball at the fields and moved home plate to the edge of the outfield so we may possibly hit it over the fence. We traded baseball cards on a weekly basis. Often times the same card came and gone through your collection three times over. We loved being kids and we especially loved our small town.
Everybody knew each other. There was a sense of pride that circulated the community. We were Miner Nation and we were dang proud of it. I remember playing sports for the Miners. My fondest memories were basketball games during the winter months. When we put the uniform on before a contest it wasn’t for our team or ourselves. It was for the community. Running out of the locker room before a contest to a packed house was some of the moments that I will cherish forever. People looked forward to these games. It was the topic of conversation amongst the regular morning crew at the local Fiddle Stix Café (it still exists, and you need to eat there if you haven’t before), and other local establishments.
There were many other events that highlighted our community. Friday night football, bingo at the city hall, and wedding dances to name a few. Speaking of wedding dances, it didn’t matter who was getting married, the entire town came to shake a hip. Speaking of hip; we wore Zubaz and wore them with pride. I know that sentence doesn’t really fit here (or in this blog) but come on…I couldn’t leave out the Zubaz.
I will also never forget the generosity that existed amongst our community. If somebody was struggling, a helping hand was given. A pancake and sausage benefit brought the entire town. We came together when we needed to, and we never turned down pancakes. We celebrated street dances, and we prayed together at church. There was nothing more community like than attending church on Christmas Eve. The entire town came. We sang together, prayed together, and wished each other a Merry Christmas.
You just can’t beat small town life. John Mellencamp sang it right when he sang the line “had myself a ball in a small town.” We certainly did, and so much more. I’ve been lucky enough to be apart of many small town families. To the communities of Wilton, Starkweather, Langdon, and currently Cooperstown (all in North Dakota) I say thank you for all the memories. I’m having a ball and I appreciate being part of such great company.
Although my Wilton days have surpassed me, the memories will never fade. It was Wilton Nation, once a Miner always a Miner. Shout out to my brother Andy Jordan (@mrjordan_78). He is currently leading Miner Nation as The high school Principal.
Disclaimer: I have nothing against large communities and big city life. You just can’t ride your bike around one in 30 minutes. Great people and great memories exist in big cities as well. I plan to blog about them someday.
I would love to hear about your small town. I think it would be a great idea to follow this blog post up with another which highlights many of the wonderful small towns out there. If you feel that your small town is special and you want it highlighted in one of my future blogs send me an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on Twitter (@Supt_Jordan) and send me a Direct Message. I would love to showcase your community. If that wasn’t enough you can “Like” my blog page (Mr. Jordan’s Blogs) and send me a message there.
I’m from Wilton and couldn’t be prouder, and if you can’t hear me (probably not because I’m writing) I will yell it a little louder. I’M FROM WILTON AND COULDN’T BE PROUDER.
Picture courtesy of my wonderful mother Aggie who braved the negative temperatures to capture it.
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