I hope you will welcome our newest contributor, Jenny
Wausau has many stories, fascinating stories in fact, and as a relative newcomer to the area – two years in the making – I cannot wait to share a story with you that I bet you never heard before. Lets wind it back a few years.
Being too young to remember where I was the day Kennedy got shot and even less adapt to care, the first life altering moment in my life was on that beautiful Fall day in September 2001 when our country, and specifically my generation, learned that evil really does exist and it can reach our shores, our cities, our children and it is about to change our lives forever. Do I remember where I was? You bet! I remember the room I was in, the smell of my first cup of morning coffee brewing, what my children left the house wearing on their way to school and I remember the exact second, about the same time as the second plane was hitting the World Trade Center, that I made the decision not to move back to Chicago as was originally planned and instead look for another Midwestern town off the terrorist’s short list in which to raise my children. That’s how I ended up in Wausau but that is not the story to which I am referring.
About that same time, maybe even that same moment, a long time, highly respected custom home builder by the name of Tim Brown was working on a new subdivision planned for the East end of town off the East Hill Historic District on what used to be Howard’s Christmas Tree Farm. The typography was beautiful. Homeowners would be perched at the top of Franklin Street with a view of Granite Peak, the river winding around it and nature preserves to the South and West. And the homes, needless to say, would be well constructed, quality homes with high pitched roofs, stone or brick exteriors and three car garages. But, as life as we knew it in our great country seemed to collapse along with New York infrastructure and the Pentagon, Tim Brown and his lovely wife Barbara started doing what they did best; they started building! Only now, this new subdivision had another purpose, the Browns wanted it to reflect the foundation that our country was built on, what separated us from the terrorists and all that makes America great. They decided to name the main though fare Independence Lane which gently rolls into Statesman Drive, Freedom Way and Patriot Drive. The Browns gave new homeowner’s a book containing “the Choicest Morsels of Wisdom,” from a number of editions of Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack. As more homes go up and lots get new owners, the Browns haven’t let their strong sense of Patriotism slide as they try to work out how they can erect a flag in Franklin Heights and make sure it is properly cared for. Tim’s son Nathan, a former Navy Seal, can often be found helping dad out on a build job. And the resident’s , many of whom built in Franklin Heights because of Tim’s reputation as a quality home builder without knowing the inspiration behind their new neighborhood, have caught on. On July 4th, Franklin Heights homes were decked out in red, white and blue as flags of all sizes furrowed from landscaping and front porches. Take a ride down Patriot Drive and you’ll find a home recently completed that reflects a time long past.
It is now July 2006 and my son just finished hitting baseballs over at East High. As I help him carry the bucket of balls, bat bag, water bottle and cleats to my husband’s waiting SUV, I can make out the radio chatter through his open windows about long range missals hitting Hiafa – a beautiful resort town in Israel – care of the Hezbollah in Lebanon. At this point, nothing shocks me anymore as Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban have become household names. Last week the news was that there had been a plot to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago. Not shocking, we are at war.
The truck is now loaded and it is time to head home, shower and eat. As we drive down 25th Street and turn West on Franklin Street we can see our neighborhood come up on the left. Turning down Independence Lane, I note that our neighborhood weatherman still has little American flags flying in the front yard next to his newly sealed driveway and poured sidewalk. I smile to myself already trying to figure out what decorations I should put up next year. I wonder if my tired stash of Independence Day decorations could be spruced up a bit. We are now on Statesman Drive. I have my husband turn the radio down and once more reflect on our journey to Wausau and take a moment to embrace Franklin Heights, our little piece of America, and all that it stands for.