Life in a small town…

Three of every four people in Elizabeth have finished high school, but only one in ten have a college degree, and only one in two hundred went to graduate school, and if this was a big city that would mean there was a lot of crime –burglaries, petty larceny, assaults, robberies, drug crime, auto thefts, rapes, even murders, but Elizabeth isn’t a big city.

Yes, there was a burglary last year, and one the year before that and the year before that, but everyone knows they were just pranks and everyone knew the high school boys involved and no charges were filed because Sheriff Mark Took care of things, as people say, and the old trophy was returned to the school.

That old trophy was from 1957 when for some strange reason the boys’ track team from Elizabeth High School won the area sectionals. Some say it’s because Kid’s used to run but now they’ve all got cars, and they’d say it as a complaint and almost everyone would agree.

The trophy was unusually big for a sectional championship, and it was heavy too, with a thick wood base and now it sits in a trophy case in the main hallway of River Ridge High School on West Street –that is, when it’s not hidden in someone’s barn the week before the pep rally on Friday of homecoming weekend when it miraculously appears on the stage and the principal just shakes her head and tries to ignore all the fuss.

There’s a football team, but only by combining with Warren High School, because on its own there are only one hundred fifty kids in the school, and the boys who play football are also the basketball team plus a few of the smaller guys, but they have to play baseball with guys from Scales Mound to have a full team, but there are enough girls for a volleyball team as long as no more than three girls are out sick, and their own basketball team and even softball -there are more girls than boys after all. But they play, they don’t necessarily win; they all just play and it’s good for them.

Even when the football team has to fulfill their traditional, historic duty of stealthy removing the ’57 Track trophy sometime early in the week and everyone knows they’re going to do it, even the principal and the enforcer known as the Assistant Principal but they still leave it right there in the case with a flimsy little lock that everyone knows how to slip up to the top in the open space and open the left side glass.

It takes less than a minute and anyone taller than five-foot-seven can do it and it must be the vitamins because almost everyone is over five-foot-seven these days, even the girls. So, the Assistant Principal called the new Sheriff Jason Markinson the son of the real Sheriff Markinson and filed a police report about a stolen trophy, which just made people shake their heads.

It’s not like the trophy is worth anything, or that anybody would want it, but that’s not why it goes missing annually, and this year it wound up in the basement of the Baptist church, of all places.

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