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COLUMN: Saying goodbye to a place

My dad used to love watching the TV program "Cheers" back in the 1980s.

For those of you who don't know, it was a comedy with wonderful characters set in a New England bar. One of the things I remember most is the opening lyrics, "sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name." I didn't think about what that meant at the time because I was so caught up in my own little world of school and friends.

After living in New Richmond for seven years, I now understand.

My husband has gotten another job within his company, and we are all moving back to Kansas City. It'll be a good move for us as a family, especially since we'll be close to relatives (a.k.a. babysitters).

So, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge a few groups that have graciously taken me under their wings.

To the Friday Memorial Library: Thanks for not kicking us out after our first visit.

I took my three daughters - ages 6, 5 and 3 -- there after school when we first got up here. They loved exploring the new space, playing with the toys and picking out books to read.

After a while, I gathered up their snowpants, backpacks, coats, boots, etc. and told them it was time to go. Immediately one started crying and ran away to hide among the shelves, the other plopped herself down in a defiant protest and the third literally got down on her hands and knees, folded her hands to the heavens and said in a loud desperate voice, "Mom, please, PLEASE let us stay! Give us mercy!!"

So there I stood; a newcomer to the community, my arms full of winter paraphernalia and three kids doing their best to humiliate me. I seriously thought about taking the winter stuff home and leaving the kids there.

I don't remember how I got them out of there, but it was at least a week before we returned. Luckily they pretended not to remember that first incident and we have been patrons ever since.

To the Girl Scouts of New Richmond: Thanks for instilling in me the courage to ask questions.

I attended the parent informational meeting when my youngest daughter was 5 years old. Having already had my older two in troops, I wanted to learn about the kindergarten Daisy troop. I sat through the whole meeting, eager to meet the Daisy troop leader. I must have seemed too eager, because when they asked if there were any questions, I asked who the Daisy leader was.

They broke into wide smiles, invited me to talk to them and the next thing I knew, I was the leader of eight Daisy scouts.

Actually, it was pretty fun. I stayed at it for a couple of years before time constraints forced me to leave. But I now understand there are consequences when I raise my hand.

To the Mom's Group of New Richmond: Giving me the support I needed as a "stranger in a strange place."

I didn't know a soul when we moved here. However, I knew enough about adapting that I had to make an effort to try to meet people. It was a stroke of luck that I found out about this group. With them I've been able to take my children on field trips to new places - like the "backstage" tour of the Douville Bakery and the Osceola Community Farm.

It has also provided lots of adult time too. We've had movie nights at each other's homes, had a 1980s trivia game night, gone bowling with the husbands and had progressive dinners going from house-to-house. Even as my children got older, I still saw MG members through school, sports and community events, and we always said "hi" to each other. They helped me keep my sanity during my children's early years.

To the Willow River Players: Reminding me that life is too short to take it seriously.

There is just SOMETHING about theater people. I don't know if it's their wackiness, their acceptance or just their desire to have fun. I started out as a theater major in college and it was one of the best times in my life.

Over the years I had gotten away from that, until I saw the audition notice for the WRP's production of "American Idle: Murdering the Music" a couple of years ago. I must have sat looking at that ad for two days.

Finally I decided to audition and thus started a re-awakening of my inner ham. I've stage managed two productions and acted in two, sat on the board for a year and ridden on a parade float. In addition, I've met equally -- and exceedingly -- hammy people. How cool is that?

To the New Richmond News: Allowing me learn more about my community - and paying me for it.

I only had a few freelance articles from a small paper in Missouri in my portfolio when I moved to New Richmond. That did not deter me from submitting them - unsolicited - to the New Richmond News. After taking me on as a freelance writer for several board meetings, I joined the staff part-time. My son was only a couple months old, so the flexibility the staff gave me was invaluable.

Not only did I get a chance to interview some wonderful people in the community, I got to take my kids along for several of the events (Pea Soup Days, Corn Fest, St. Patrick's Day parade). The staff still teases me that I try to sneak my own kids pictures in the paper (I would NEVER do that).

There are other organizations that I've been involved with: the United Methodist Church, The AKF Martial Arts Academy, the parents association for the New Richmond School District, the former YMCA (now The Centre).

I've been able to meet many more through working at the paper: St. Anne's School, Village of Roberts, Village of Somerset, Toastmasters, Somerset Lions, Somerset Chamber, etc.

I even have met people that I didn't know through any group, but individuals who would simply approach me at the grocery store or Wal-Mart and say, "Don't you write those columns for the newspaper?" I'm half-tempted to ask them if they like them first, but they usually follow it up with, "I really enjoy them."

Aw, shucks.

For those of you who have stayed with me through my coffee fascination, un-moming my ride, surviving the summer vacation, rediscovering date nights, and looking at dating from a parental perspective, I thank you for your loyalty. I will try my hand at writing about my family's exploits in a blog on the New Richmond News' website - the bonus will be that now my kids can't complain that I'm embarrassing them in front of their schoolmates.

New Richmond has been a wonderful place to live these past seven years. Truly, it has been "a place where everyone knows your name."

So for all the smiles, laughs and just plain friendliness, I wish all of you a wonderful holiday and thank you for the memories.