Friday, September 28, 2007

Homeward bound

Sort of...I consider Rochester my home, but my formative years were spent in Rushville, Indiana. (The picture is a view from the air.) According to Wikipedia, there were 5,595 people in Rushville as of the 2000 census. When I left town (1981), there were about 7,000 people there.

Some other facts of note from the 2000 census: The racial makeup of the city was 96.45% White, 1.58% African American, 0.20% Native American, 0.85% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.13% from other races, and 0.73% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.40% of the population.

There were 2,434 households, and the average household size was 2.39. The median income for a household in the city was $30,233, and the median income for a family was $36,646. Males had a median income of $30,127 versus $22,440 for females. About 8.1% of families and 11.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.3% of those under age 18 and 12.0% of those age 65 or over.

Sounds like fun, huh?

In a few days, I'm going to visit the one high school friend I'm still in touch with, who now lives in Australia and is coming back to visit. She's a truly lovely person, and I can't wait to see her, but I am feeling somewhat traumatized about the thought of going back. I had some great high school teachers, and truly great piano and band teachers (married to each other), but otherwise, growing up there as a bisexual feminist Buddhist tree-hugging vegetarian progressive (even if the only one of those identities I realized at the time was feminist) was quite stifling.

Franklin just visited his parents in Indiana, and he seemed to survive just fine, but he had an amazing yarn store to make up for any lack of cultural diversity. I googled "yarn store Rushville Indiana" and came up with a quilting store that doesn't look like my style, although perhaps I'll check it out just in case!

As my lovely friend from Australia said after reading our classmate Monica Holloway's book, Driving with Dead People, "People in Rushville don't really want to see what's going on around them. They just go on as if everything is fine, even when it's clearly NOT."

Of course, our memories are filtered through the angst of adolescence, troubled families, and the death by suicide of one of our closest friends. And of course, people in Rushville, while not ethnically diverse, are just as diverse as anyone in their ability to deal with life's difficulties.

Nonetheless, rural isolation, a lack of social and cultural resources, relatively low incomes, and a dwindling population and economy add up to a less than ideal world for people to enact their highest and best potential.

At least that's how I remember it. I'll let you know what some 25 years have brought to the town when I return from the Crossroads of America.

1 comment:

Sarah Carrigan said...

Hey Julie, I'm traveling around your Facebook and blogs, catching up, and couldn't resist the Rushville posts. I go back to IN 2-3 times a year since my folks are there and will be until they die. Did you hear about the tornado in June that took down the Moscow covered bridge?