By Carol Harper
I think of my childhood as the “Spring” of my life; the Beginning, if you will. I was born into the Northern Arapaho tribe and adopted as an infant to a wonderful Riverton family and was raised in what some would call a typical “Americana-type” hometown.
Both Spring and Summertime was filled with all sorts of activities, such as swimming or waterskiing out at Boysen or Ocean lakes, hiking and rock-hunting out on the nearby bluffs, buttes and prairies…parades, fairs, festivals and fireworks…sitting on the fence at a rodeo…watching the fireworks on [what was then called] Griffey Hill. All the neighborhood kids knew each other, and I remember that we’d ride our bikes everywhere…to the parks, to the creamery, to the train depot and put pennies on the tracks. The fire station would blow the noon whistle. We’d rake up the yellow, orange and red Fall leaves to jump into…build snowmen, carve out sledding hills, ice skate on the irrigation ditches in the Winter. It was a time where you were up early for breakfast, worked before you played, and were home before dusk to eat dinner with the family. My Mom was an amazing cook, so I never wanted to miss that! My high school years were quite busy with high school and CWC music classes, and though seemed like I was always practicing for the next piano competition or music festival, I did make time school activities, dances and most of the annual, seasonal community events.
Like so many youth who are eager to “get outta Dodge” after high school…the Summertime my life ensued. My son and daughter were born in Utah; we moved to the South Bay of CA, and eventually moved to the Sierras in Amador County. After both of my kids (yes, both!) joined the Marines, I moved to Nashville, TN and had a wonderful time being a part of the music scene there. When my grand-daughter was born, I moved back to Amador, but quite frankly, California’s high cost of living left me in a state of hopelessness. My Dad and I talked, and he said: “Well, why don’t you just come back home?”
So I did, with absolutely no regrets. There are so many great things I love about Riverton as a hometown in any season, but what I love the most about being back (besides being close to family and old friends) is that Riverton is and always has been Wyoming’s “Central Station”. After a long work week, I can go to a local farmer’s market, community event or festival. If I want to, I can take a day trip to Dubois, Lander, Casper or Thermopolis. If I want to, I can take a weekender trip to music festivals in Worland, Laramie or Jackson. I can still hike out on the bluffs, buttes and prairies, sit on a fence at a rodeo, go to (or even be in) a parade, meet old and new friends at the local cafés and coffeeshops…be a part of a fantastic community that still believes in, embraces and promotes that historic, Americana hometown way of life that I have always remembered and cherish.
Because, at end of the day, there’s no place like home.