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July 22, 1997
Dear Lars and Inga,
Well, I finally arrived here in Junction City and am just now getting around to unpacking my bags! You wouldn't believe what a commotion I ran into my very first day! (I even enclosed some photos so you could see.)
I went downtown to buy a few things, and found that the street had been roped off, and was filled with local folk! There was a live polka band (made me homesick) and food kept being put out on long tables on either side of the street. So I ask one of the locals (like I guess I am one now), and they tell me that it's some sort of a neighborhood celebration because two businesses were closing! At first I think they must have been pretty un-popular, (because why else would you celebrate), but then I find out that everyone's actually sad the businesses are closing, but are there to honor the people that owned them.
Seems this one couple, Ray and Emily Swart, came here many years ago for visit, and wound up starting a pharmacy in one of the oldest buildings in town. Well, the business grew and over the years they added Hallmark cards and a whole bunch of gift items like sweatshirts and coffee mugs. That was 45 years ago - can you imagine?!
The other couple, Paul and Eleanor Nordling, owned the Ben Franklin Variety store for 35 years. I did get some good deals at their closeout sale; but judging from all the different things they sold, this community will really be missing it.
So anyway, even the mayor was there giving a speech (which I think is pretty much what mayors do), and presenting plaques to the Swarts and Nordlings from the community in appreciation and sadness for all theyve done for the community. It was pretty moving, I can tell you, because they both had their children and grandchildren there to help honor them and everyone was getting all choked up. Still, I guess it's not too bad, because I overheard Paul say something about being able to play more golf. Besides, even if the businesses closed, both couples still live here; so I guess we'll all still be seeing them around.
Well, I gotta get back to my unpacking. I'll be sure to write you again next week and keep you up to date on what's going on.
All my best,
P.S. - I hope you are saving my other letters: