The boys down at Breading’s ordered breakfast just the same as their fathers did. They hollered (seemingly to nobody) that they wanted their eggs over easy and their bacon crispy. You’d have to have been in Breading’s before to be aware of the window in the back wall of the big room that opened to the kitchen. Otherwise, you might think the orders simply appeared spontaneously.
The cigar boxes rested in big waist-high glass
cases along the wall.
Oh yeah, it was a cigar store.
It started out that way,
anyway. Breading's Cigar Store.
It was one of the shops that lined the few
downtown blocks along the old Lincoln Highway.
By the 80’s it
wasn’t seed and feed caps you’d see on the heads.
Oh, maybe some.
They may have
crowned some of the older heads.
But the current knights of this informal town
round table parked their pick-ups outside beside the banker’s and
And they talked about what they’re building that day.
they built over Monoquet – the village’s first site -- where their kids
hunted for arrowheads along the banks and adjacent fields of the
John Deere and their dads before them had already pretty
much changed the rest of the county.
Changed all but the winding waterways and
Together, Deere and the dads shaped the county into the neat
squares of a quilted landscape that changes color with the seasons.
blocks to the south, engineers drove their East-West trains through
town, pulling miles of goods from Pittsburgh-to-Chicago just as they had
for over a century.
Four blocks to the east, the North-South tracks served
The boys in Breading’s, having grown up in the
rail town, no longer even registered the sound of the train whistles as
they blasted through town. When you grow up in a train town, your ears
And their sons played in the Little League
diamonds in the industrial park on the west edge of town.
The sons played.
coached and bragged.
The mothers wove the community together.
is closed now.
The Lincoln Highway has been broken into vestigial segments
that you drive through or across on your way to somewhere else in the
Nowadays, the two youngest generations don’t even know what the
historical marker signs that dot those fossil sections of road mean.
Highway?” “ This was a highway?” they ask.
But the tracks still
go through town.
And the Little League diamonds are still on the edge of town.
town grew to the north and to the east but somehow the west edge
remained the west edge.
Like a tree planted against a wall.
All the branches had
only one way to grow.
The growing upper and middle class who knew what
they wanted, wanted the beautiful landscape and lifestyle of the lakes
and the forests to the north and the east.
And the growing upper and middle
class who didn’t so much know what they wanted, at least knew that they
wanted to keep up with where the rest of the upper and middle class was
going to be.
Gone are the lake cottages.
Year-round homes line the lakes now.
one of them.
The town has continued to grow.
From the small native
village of Monoquet, to the taming and draining of the farm land, to the
industry that grew around three foundries – all in about one century’s
…and finally to the orthopedic industry that now defines it
as a small city.
It’s now a high-tech town with engineers coming from all
over the world for the opportunity afforded them by the demand for their
Here they will raise their families and shape this
town in new directions.
Here’s a photo, taken in the industrial
There’s a game going on.
As I’m working in my shop, two hundred yards to
the north of me, on the other side of the tracks, here’s the scene: