There’s really nothing quite like Homecoming. It’s a celebration that just screams small town U.S.A. and you can almost hear the strains of a John (Cougar) Mellencamp song as the floats roll down Main Street.
Our communities of Oakdale, Riverbank and Escalon all get to host that tradition, the Fall Homecoming with the parade, the rallies, the crowning of royalty. Escalon recently had theirs; Riverbank is coming up this week, Oakdale next week. Once we’re through all that, I will truly feel that it is autumn and we can forget about triple digit heat, pull out the sweatshirts and start to plan for (hopefully) a long rainy season ahead.
September proved to be a pretty busy month, as schools got back into the swing of things and fall sports started with a vengeance.
This past month also provided me with the chance to meet a New York Times best-selling author, who came back to her hometown of Escalon to share her story at Dent Elementary School. Kathryn Aalto wrote “The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk through the Forest that Inspired the Hundred Acre Wood” and stopped in Escalon to give the young students a glimpse into the life of a writer.
Her book, she told them, is not so much about Pooh and all his friends, but the woods they inhabited, and the real-life forest where those stories were based. Now living in England, Aalto had the chance to tour those woods, to learn all about them, and help readers re-live the Pooh stories through a unique new perspective. She said the book, which hit the bestseller list earlier this year, allowed her to combine three of her favorite things – writing, history and nature, with a nod to some iconic favorites as well. She also believes that is why the book has been such a hit.
“It is quintessential childhood,” she said.
Our papers often get the chance to highlight former residents that have gone on to make their mark in a variety of careers. And we enjoy doing it, after all, who doesn’t like a good success story?
The thing I found most enjoyable about covering Ms. Aalto’s appearance was her approach to the presentation itself. She said that while she traditionally speaks to adult audiences, she found the young students refreshing and their questions and comments insightful. Her dedication to the craft of writing, meanwhile, was unquestionable; her fondness for the teachers that nurtured her creativity undeniable.
Students who might have thought big names don’t come out of small towns learned they had to think again. That point was driven home by Ms. Aalto, who said her writing career got its start when she was just nine-years-old, an elementary student in Escalon wondering if she could make a job out of writing pretty words. She pursued her dream and encouraged the students to do the same.
Now we move into October, with its Fire Prevention, Halloween and Red Ribbon Week festivities. Not far behind that, Election Day, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving , Christmas … 2016 will be in the books before we know it.
This year could also see my daughter entering a voting booth for the first time. She wasn’t old enough to vote in the Presidential Election of 2012 but can cast a ballot this year. It was a bit of a shocker, I must admit, to come home and see her watching the first Presidential Debate last week. She’s usually more into Netflix; so seeing her absorbed in The Donald vs. Hillary? While she is still trying to decide which candidate to vote for – if either – it made me proud to realize she wants to take an active role, be more informed; have her voice heard.
Even the fact that we have a choice, we get to cast that ballot; I can hear the lyrics now from another Mellencamp song … “Ain’t that America?”
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.