Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Little Town on the Prairie

Ah, Brockway! It is a town so similar to the many other frontier communities of the Great Plains, yet not without its own wonderful peculiarities. Brockway used to be a thriving little town, but now the actual townsite boasts only about 15 residents and many abandoned homes. A reference to Brockway now indicates the larger community throughout the southwest corner of the county. Surely you must have heard of this place. After all, there is the World Famous Dairy Day Rodeo where the community gets together for the day and suffers through an afternoon of 100 degree heat.
Some of the original structures throughout the town still exist. This grain elevator is used during seeding and harvest time. Cenex Harvest States officially owns the elevator and threatened to burn it down several years ago, citing liability issues. If you think a PTA meeting about Huck Finn and Catcher in the Rye books in the library can get heated, get together a bunch of ranchers and farmers who rely on the elevator to get their job done and tell them you're going to take it away.
We still manage to maintain a post office. Box delivery occurs every day. Rural free delivery happens three times a week for those who are too far removed from the world to pick up their mail. Please note that this is not two buildings. The owners decided to put a brown (albeit crooked) stripe up to give the impression of a small space between the two. Yes, they did. Please also note that the Brockway Mercantile is closed. I know you were planning on shopping there, but you can't have it all. And besides, your friends back east really don't want a Dairy Day commemorative t-shirt. No, they do not.
The fire hall. Whoever arrives first gets to drive one of two trucks. And may you be blessed if you have to drive the older truck. I should tell you about rural fire authorities in the future. Come July and August, everyone is a firefighter. Hay balers burn up, combines burn up, grass stuck in the bottom of your pick-up can spark and set the whole world afire.
This is the old church in Brockway. Some people from somewhere else moved into it a few years ago. The altar is the kitchen. Not much else has been done in the way of refurbishments, or so I am told. Imagine that, if you will.
I do not know if it works. If you were born after 1990 you may not recognize this sort of old-fangled contraption. Sorry.

Flash forward to the modern day! The Brockway Commercial Club assumed ownership of some tracts of land and some buildings within the townsite of Brockway way back when people started abandoning the place. The Club is comprised of community members who volunteer their time to put on the Dairy Day rodeo and provide necessary maintenance to the town. They operate on profits from the rodeo as well as grant funding. It is amazing to see what they can accomplish with volunteer hours.
They accomplish things like building outhouses. (It's a two-holer, I am told!) And may I note that there is some chivalry involved here. The "Cowboys" outhouse is not being replaced at this time, only the "Cowgirls" potty palace. The outhouses are generally only used for outdoor dances and gatherings held in the town of Brockway, although maybe the occasional tourist tries them out for fun. I really can't say. We're rustic here, but you know what, we like it. And yes, I do have running water at home. And no outhouse.

In all seriousness though, the Commercial Club gets work done. They moved a recreational hall some thirty miles in from the country and restored it with a tin roof and siding. They ensure that playground equipment, simple though it may be, is available for any who wish to use it. They rebuilt the rodeo arena and added stadium seating. In short, they are one of the last saving graces for this little town that is slowly fading away.

This is Brockway.

And we like it here.

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