My family moved to Walkerton, Virginia when I was in high school. You get your mail at the post office, leave your door unlocked, know a lot of gossip about your neighbors. It’s a town like that. A lot of my stories are set here.
When we first moved to Walkerton, and for a long time after that, our house was referred to as “the Griggs place”: You live in the Griggs place. We lived right next to Mrs. Walker after living without neighbors (on a farm, then in a log cabin) ever since I was born. My mom hated the bright street lights and would try to knock them out with rocks; my brother and I didn’t care for the loud fire alarm that summoned the volunteer firemen. When Richard Allen came to visit me in high school, he couldn’t find my house–there are no street numbers.
My parents have lived there for 18 years now, and have come to appreciate more of the perks of town life. Mrs. Walker’s son sends over bushels of produce in the summer and a gallon of oysters at Christmas. They have a farmer’s market and a nearby arts center, and my mom is called upon to paint signs for various businesses and endeavors. This one advertises Scott’s Store. You can buy gas and kerosene and sodas and barbecue sandwiches there. One time my friend Jenni bought a Black Power afro pick from Scott’s Store.
The sign my mom painted shows the old drawbridge, which has been replaced by a new, safe bridge but which the town kept, a little off to the side and connected to a fishing pier. My dad always tells visitors who seem hesitant, “Go ahead! You can fish from there!” There are many self-appointed Walkerton mayors, which is a testament to how well people like it there.