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YCN is a forum for people in the community to voice their thoughts on local events and activities. Current issues include Village and Township finance restrictions because of reduced income from multiple sources, sewer in the Village, Woodridge school moving, the JEDD, and others. This space in the paper is to allow a place for pro and con opinions to be voiced. We encourage writers to express their views about the issues, not about the people. Articles that involve derogatory statements will be edited or returned to the writer. The opinions expressed here do not represent YCN.

Jack Harley

25 years ago, newcomers in this close-knit, bucolic community, my husband and I had difficulty finding our niche. That is, until I stumbled upon the Downtown Emporium and met a brazen shopkeeper with a generous gift for conversation. She welcomed me to the community and saturated my mind with the day-to-day follies of a cohesive yet divisive town. Following our happenstance, introductory meeting, I made regular stops into the store for the next eleven years, conversing about everything from the Civil War to the current availability of RS Prussia in Northeast Ohio, while admiring the merchant's wares. As observant as the shopkeeper was, it didn't take her long to recognize that I was a fool for all china with gilded edges and Flemish roses.

One day, many years later, my eight-year-old Cub Scout wandered into that very same store with high hopes of selling the two kind ladies and a spotted dog some popcorn. Struck by the shopkeeper's contagious chatty nature and amusing temperament, my son also began making regular visits to the store, whether it was to once again deliver his sales pitch, distribute the purchased goods, retrieve the annual Christmas ornament or simply shoot whatever breeze is customary between a second grader and two sixty-something adults.

Returning from one of these visits, I noticed a paper bag firmly tucked beneath the arm of my son and inquired as to its contents. Revealing a sly grin, and tightened grasp on the secret, he disappeared to stow away his undisclosed treasure. The following Christmas morning, I woke to an impeccably wrapped gift under the tree with my name on it. Inside was a butter dish, embellished with Flemish roses and a faint golden edge. My son beamed proudly; the secret safe behind the smile. This tradition continued for many years. It was not until much later that my son disclosed the story in its entirety. Each year, usually trapped under the guise of this year's handmade ornament retrieval, my son would receive a phone call beckoning him to the shopkeeper's store with instructions to bring this week's allowance with him and nothing more. My son would drain the measly coins from his piggy bank and meet the merchant for the "deal of the century." The Flemish rose decorated china could be purchased and wrapped (with his help) for the exact cost of the sparse coins dangling in his sandwich baggie. And the best part was, a free Civil War figurine came to all customers making purchases on that day.

It is now, years later, that each time I handle one of those precious antiques or stumble upon the perfectly preserved Civil War soldiers sleeping in the drawer, I am fondly reminded of the union between two unlikely comrades. If I close my eyes tight enough, I can envision my flaxen-haired, red-faced little boy running out the door with mad anticipation to see what the shopkeeper had in store for him. I can see the knuckles rapping at the screen door and feel the warmth and comfort that rushed him upon entrance. Transcended, I can see the expression he dons as he sinks into the chair after giving the spotted dog due acknowledgment. I can still picture the coy boy returning from his sojourn, bag in tow, donning the mischievous grin only a true ruse can produce.

I will never be certain of the precise contents or transpirations of those back room conversations but I can rest assured that my son is a better man because of them. It truly does "take a village."

Kim Hammond
I would like to thank Peninsula resident and Chamber of Commerce trustee Diane Seskes for taking the time to once again organize Ramp Up Peninsula. She has tirelessly volunteered her time and talent to coordinate this wonderful annual event for our community, for several years. Also, in addition to her volunteer work with Ramp Up and our Chamber of commerce, Diane's businesses help showcase local artists and contribute immensely to what makes Peninsula unique. Thank you, Diane, for everything you do for us. It is truly appreciated.

Chris Weigand