What every small town in America has: At least one church and one bar

Our story so far: While we demoed the interior, we combed the town for information about the 126-year-old Methodist church we’d purchased to turn into a home.

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Tyler became a lunchtime regular at the village watering hole, this one built appropriately on the banks of the creek in town. It was a typical Wisconsin bar that offered cold New Glarus beers, crispy fried cheese curds and a monthly meat raffle.

As all good neighborhood taverns are, this bar was a great place to catch up on gossip, and our church had become a subject of conversation. This worked in our favor as Tyler collected the names of local contractors; the bartender/owner was a great source of intel on that subject.

One day when I accompanied him there for lunch (chili, burgers and fries—no beer), I learned a group of women was scrapbooking in the back room.

“This place speaks my language,” I marveled. In a decade of working in the marketing department for the largest scrapbooking company at the time (a decade ago), I’d attended easily hundreds of scrapbooking events all over the nation and in the world. It was literally my job to go to one of these events with my personal photos and album and work with customers to learn what they loved, what they didn’t and their ideas for making our products better.

One of the more enthusiastic scrappers struck up a conversation at the bar where we were enjoying our hot bowls of chili on a cold day, and she invited me to the monthly scrapbooking workshop.

I felt honestly welcomed to town with that simple invitation. And a few days later, we’d get another one of those honest, small-town invites. We joked we went to church every day, but this invitation was to a real church service.

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Tomorrow: Another church in the neighborhood shares history. Read it here.

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