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WEST: Thankful to be part of such a close community

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By: Elizabeth West, Associate Editor

A couple of weeks ago I met this kind lady.
At some point during the conversation, the lady asked me where I was from. I responded with, “I am from right up the road. Good ole Pine Prairie.”
Her response to me was one I had never heard before. The older woman looked at me and said, “Ohh Pine Prairie. You know I always said that if I could live a second life, I would want to come back and live in Pine Prairie.”
Pine Prairie was my home so I understood why I loved it, but I had never heard someone not from Pine say that the village is where they would choose to live if they got the chance to live a second life.
The woman’s granddaughter looked at her and in complete shock said, “What? Why would you want to live in Pine Prairie?”
Pine Prairie is only about 10 minutes from the community of Vidrine, which is where the woman had spent her life. She had lived close enough to the quaint little 1.4 square mile town to be able to see just what it could offer.
Her response to her granddaughter’s question was one that made me feel proud of the place that I get to call home. The woman said, “I have always known Pine to be such a close community and people want to work together in the community. It just always seemed nice.”
I left that conversation reminiscing about the good times from my childhood and how my home town is the reason why many of those good times were possible.
I didn’t think much about the conversation I had with the kind woman until my West family came over to eat at my parent’s house after attending services at First Baptist Church Pine Prairie this past Sunday.
Because I love history, especially local history, I decided to whip out the 1951 Pine Prairie Yearbook to show my paw-paw West, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
While sitting at the head of the dining room table at my parent’s house, my paw-paw opened up that yearbook to the first page which was filled with pictures of the school’s administration at that time. I looked at my paw-paw’s face and it just lit up as he began pointing at principals and teachers that he remembered.
My paw-paw had forgotten his glasses at home that day so he wasn’t able to read the names of the people or really see the smaller class pictures that well. I could tell he was eager to get to look at the people in the year book so I sat there and read each name under the class pictures to him.
When we made it to the eighth grade class, which was my paw-paw’s class, I read the name Jerry Polk. The minute I spoke that name my paw-paw pointed to the picture of the young boy and said, “That was my friend.”
My paw-paw gazed at that picture for a while and then I proceeded to read the names under the photos that followed Jerry’s. I had enough time to read two more names before my paw-paw stopped me and went back to Jerry’s photo. He began crying as he said, “That was my good friend.”
It was in that moment, as water filled my own eyes, that I realized that was the close community the woman was talking about.
Growing up in such a small place has allowed me and my fellow Pine Prairie natives to form bonds with people in our community that not everyone gets to experience in life. Bonds formed are so strong that not even Alzheimer’s can make you forget about them.
Now, that’s something special.

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