I love living in Toledo, Ohio. It’s very different from where I grew up even though my childhood home is only about forty-five minutes away in Henry County.
I grew up in the country. My family wasn’t very religious but still, indoctrination was all around me. There were things that happened when I was little that was seemingly innocent at the time that I now see as very wrong as an adult.
For example, like every good country kid, I was in 4-H. We would have a camp every June and I remember praying before every meal at camp. We would sing our prayers and to this very day, those little songs pop into my head. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think 4-H is actually a Christian organization. I think I was around nine or ten years old and I didn’t question it. My family didn’t pray before meals but it still didn’t seem out of the ordinary.
But it gets worse. I went to public school and I remember teachers discussing god and Jesus. My kindergarten teacher sat us all down on the rug and told us the “true meaning of Christmas”. Unlike the songs at 4-H camp, that felt awkward to me, but not enough for me to bring it up at home.
In high school, prayer was everywhere – at many events and games. I was in the marching band and we had a chaplain. He would lead prayers at our banquets.
My math teacher has religious posters on the walls of his classroom. I failed Algebra 2 so I was in that classroom twice.
My proudest moment in high school is when my best friend and I walked out during the last prayer at a Friday night football game. We were in the marching band together. We got a detention for it the following week.
Times have changed, but has Henry County?
I can’t help but wonder if things are different now back home. All of these things that I’m describing happened twenty or thirty years ago.
When I was in high school, many of us had internet service at home for the first time. It made that crazy dial-up sound and was slow and unreliable, but would it become a game changer?
I’ve heard the internet service still isn’t the greatest out there, but I’m sure it’s better than what we had in the 90s.
What happens when you open up Henry County to the world? Does anything change? With Covid, we now can work and go to school from anywhere so hopefully, that gave a lot of people back home more opportunities.
What does this do to the conservative religious views that so many people back home shared? Are they still cramming religion down kids’ throats?
I’m curious but I don’t have the answers to these questions. I have a bad feeling though.
Country Girl, Atheist Woman
How did I escape my country home? I got in my car and I left. Higher education was calling. I left after high school and I’ve only been back a handful of times. When I got to college my friends called me “fresh off the farm” because sometimes I have a tiny twang.
I left country life and religion far behind me. I decided several years back that I will only live places within twenty minutes of a Target store.
Any other country kids out there? How has it changed over the years? Or has it?