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September 25, 2005

Catching up with the old gang...

Slipped out of town for a long weekend in Stockton, Mo. High school class reunion. Hadn't been to one for a while.

Sixty-four in the class. Twenty-nine showed up. More than enough to keep me puzzled all night, trying to fit long-ago names to new faces.

But we got the IDs all straightened out and had a pleasant evening catching up and, then, disinterring old stories that mostly could have stayed buried without harm.

Also wanted to see how Stockton's coming along with its tornado-induced makeover. The town square, with its many century-old stone buildings, looked like it'd been bombed when the funnel cloud left town May 4, 2003. Lots of damage elsewhere, too. (Photo gallery from the Springfield News-Leader)

The square's all rebuilt, 'cept for a half-block gap on the east side. They did a little planning, too; everybody rebuilt in brick, and little architectural flourishes on each building echo each other. Looks nice, and will for the next hundred years.

Lots of building going on all over. Couple of new churches, lots of commercial building. Residential, too.

For a bonus, it was Walnut Festival weekend. Walnut Festival, for those very few of you who may not know, is celebrated because Stockton is The Black Walnut Capital of the World. Things may be looking up in the black-walnut field, too. Hammons, the walnut company, is paying $13 per hundredweight, the highest ever. They're hoping people will haul in at least 27 million pounds. Can't help this year, though as a teen I did gather a pickup load of walnuts a couple times, as a way of making a little autumn money.

Anyway, the festival was nice. Food and crafts in the park, big parade with 15 or so high school bands, old cars, fire trucks, queen contestants riding in towed boats and all that. Twenty-five hundred or so people -- well more than the town population -- lined the streets for the parade.

Looked, sounded and felt like a place on the move. Heard several people say that, sad as the three deaths were, the tornado otherwise was the best thing that ever happened to Stockton.

Whatever the truth of that, it's clear there're not many quitters in the place.

Posted by jcb at September 25, 2005 08:41 PM