Arenzville at 175 (and 10, and 6, and 12:30)

As Arenzville prepares to celebrate its Terquasquicentennial, a word that’s much too long to spell out in crepe paper on a 4-H Club parade float, we’ve celebrated the town’s 175th birthday with a few snippets from the town’s past. To cap things off, we’ll take a peek at present-day Arenzville. (Of course the joke in town is that our little burg’s present is pretty much a carbon copy of what happened yesterday.) 

A typical day in Arenzville:

5:45 a.m. The Journal Courier hits the front porch. That’s my kind of paperboy! 

6 a.m. Barb opens up AJ’s tap for the morning business while Stephanie and Becky do the same down at the convenience store. The three ladies drip simultaneously, knowing that the first coffee customer will arrive at 6:01.

6:10 a.m. The cruisers make their first round of the town. Dodge City had Matt Dillon and his vigilantes. Arenzville has cruisers who have the unofficial duty of checking out the town before it’s fully awake and rechecking things once the sun’s gone down. Their number varies all the way from one to two and their standard official vehicle is a pickup truck although a Ford 8N tractor will occasionally be substituted when the weather’s fine.

6:30 a.m. The coffee crowds are in full gulp at both locations. Pittsburgh runs on steel, Detroit on Ford bumpers, but Arenzville is fueled chiefly by caffeine. This is the time when all important news of the night before is shared. Since this is Arenzville there’s likely not to be any important news so conversation drifts off in various other directions.

7 a.m. The employees start drifting in to Beard Implement. 

8 a.m. The bank opens. No one actually goes in the bank any more, preferring instead to use digital or drive-up, but they’re kind enough to open the door. It’s a shame. The lobby is really spiffy and they have free candy. (And I don’t mean the cheap little suckers but real chocolate thing-a-ma-bobs.) 

8 a.m. The post office opens. New federal cutbacks allow us to see a live person behind the counter only 4 hours a day. During rush seasons it’s all they can do to get it into the boxes and lock the door again. 

8:05. Trinity Lutheran School opens its doors to await its crowd of rowdies. 

8:29. The teenagers blast out of town to be in time for an 8:30 school bell at Triopia. 

8:45. The UPS truck comes to town. You don’t even have to look out the window since the brakes on all the brown buggies make the same noise turning the corner. 

9 a.m. Second shift arrives at the convenience store coffee table. Some are holdovers from Shift One and gladly relay anything newsworthy.

10 a.m. Schwan’s truck buzzes through town. Doesn’t stop. He’s on his way to Beardstown. 

10:45 a.m. The mail’s usually out and Rick the rural carrier is on his way. Neither rain nor snow nor dark of night keeps him from his appointed rounds but he occasionally takes off for the Bahamas. 

11:30 a.m. The pickups begin nosing into the sidewalk in front of AJ’s as the lunch crowd drifts in. It’s actually called “dinner” in Arenzville, but I don’t want to confuse things. 

Noon. By now you’ll have to have a long walk if you want to eat at our town’s only restaurant. Some have reported to have trudged an entire half block.

1 p.m. The Spotted Ladies arrive and stake out their area at the convenience store. They’re our domino-playing crowd. Only in a small town could you bring your own refreshments to a diner and play a game with no cover charge. This is a bit of a problem for the male 1:30 coffee crowd as they’re relegated to one of the two remaining booths. The Spotted Ladies will speak to you, but only between rounds. 

3 p.m. The final coffee shift of the day arrives to sop up what’s left of the news left lying around from the day’s previous inhabitants. 

3:10 p.m. The school age crowd runs in for a quick drink before ball practice. 

5 p.m. The supper (dinner, whatever) crowd begins to arrive at AJ’s for taco night or steak night or fish night. The bar begins to fill up. 

9 p.m. The gas pumps are shut off at the station and the lights are flicked.

9:45 p.m. The cruisers make their final lap around the time, getting home in time to check the 10 p.m. news.

Midnight. Troy closes things down at AJ’s and we declare that God is in His heaven and all is right with the world. 

Yes, today closely resembles yesterday, and yesterday bears a striking resemblance to the day before. That’s why we stay.

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About the author

Ken Bradbury is an adjunct instructor of theatre at LLLC after retiring from Triopia. He entertains on the Spirit of Peoria riverboat and is the author of over 300 published plays. Website:

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