Even though I had come looking for them, I was still surprised at the sight — wagon wheel ruts and the footprints of a child in the weathered sidewalk of a small town on the Minnesota prairie. I had seen them before, back in the 1960’s, but did not expect that they would still be visible today.
But there they were, evidence that a child had dragged his wagon through freshly poured cement on the sidewalk opposite the Baptist Church.
When my mother was born, her father was pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Westbrook, Minnesota. She was the third of four children. Her only brother, Paul was the oldest, and he was the little boy who pulled his wagon through the cement.
In 1932 her father was called to pastor a church in central Oregon, so the family packed up the Model A and headed west, leaving behind the ruts and footprints.
Last week I was driving in southwest Minnesota and took a little detour to Westbrook to see if there was anything left of them. To my amazement, more than 90 years after they hardened, they are still visible.
I never knew my uncle very well because I grew up on the other side of the planet and he passed away shortly after we returned to the United States. From what I do know, he was a wonderful man. In the same way that the ruts of his wagon are visible in the sidewalk in Westbrook, so too are the ruts of his life visible in the lives of his daughters and grandchildren scattered around the country.
Well done, Uncle Paul!
May the ruts of our lives be visible decades hence as well.