The heart of a small rural town beats in the gathering places that supply its essential needs. Churches. The grocery store. A gas station. The courthouse. The post office, if it’s still there. And the Laundromat. Dotted throughout southern Illinois are several tiny towns and villages whose pulse is slowing to a crawl, causing them to wither, one business at a time. Their history is rich, stretching back to the days of Lewis and Clark. On this day though, it was the ghosts of the 20th century that intrigued me.
Standing in the middle of the quiet street with sweat from the 97 degree day trickling down my back, I couldn’t help but wonder about Charles and Eula Mae, the feet that passed over the threshold of Ralph’s Laundry and the gossip that swirled on the bench out front between swigs from bottles of Coca-Cola on sweltering summer days.