Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 21, 2014

Small towns do it right

Jun 28, 2013

By BROOKS TAYLOR

Mt. Pleasant News

A good time was had by all.

Not sure about that, but I had a good time and that’s what counts.

I’m talking about this week’s Midsummer celebration in Swedesburg. It has been quite a while since I have been to an ethic celebration and I not only enjoyed but learned.

It never ceases to amaze me how small towns can keep town celebrations alive while the same type of events die in larger communities.

A long time ago when I asked my parents, “what am I?” — referring to my nationality, I was told predominantly German but Swedish was mentioned as in the mix, too. I guess with parents’ surnames of Speiser and Tiegs, the German in me stands out. For those who do not remember, I am adopted and my birth name, which lasted for about six weeks, was John Anthony Tiegs. Yes, former supermodel Cheryl Tiegs is my second cousin.

Getting back to the Swedish. Maybe it is my deep Lutheran roots, but I find that I can identify with any person whose last name ends in “son.”

Another of the reasons I enjoyed the Midsummer celebration in Swedesburg is that the August and Maria Anderson family was the honored family this year. I’ve known Arvid Anderson, a grandson of the August Andersons, and his wife, Joan, for over a quarter of a century.

The friendship goes back to my Washington days. For about four consecutive years, we arrived at the same time at the Washington County Farm Bureau Banquet and sat together.

I asked Arvid this week if he was still farming. Initially, he tried denying it, but when corrected by a relative, he said behind a sheepish grin that he was “helping out.” Knowing him, I would imagine that he is more than helping out.

Arvid is tops in my book, one of the nicest people I ever met. He recently was honored for being a 60-year member of the Crawfordsville Lions Club, the only charter member still living. That moves him another peg on my list.

While there were probably as many non-Swedesburg people at the celebration as local residents, the town should be proud of its heritage and its celebration.

In another life, I lived in another predominantly Swedish community in another part of the state. I am not going to reveal the identity of the community, but the town’s motto is “How Svede it is.”

There is a stark contrast between the two communities. While Swedesburg is inviting, the other community is about as closed as a community can be. Newcomers are presumed guilty until proven innocent. The stares you receive while walking down the street could turn milk sour.

It’s OK, I am long gone from that community. Swedesburg may not be even close in population to many other ethnic communities, but it is the heart that counts and Swedesburg has its heart in the right place.

It seemed odd to be going to a Midsummer celebration the fourth day of summer, but after reading the history behind the event, the longest day factors into the name much more than the time of the year.

Besides, the 4th of July is next week, which more or less, means summer is on a fast downward slope.

That’s not good news for those of us who live for summer and whose longest day actually is the first day of summer because daylight is gradually slipping away.

 

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