In contrast to the structural and visual depletion of Church St. (see previous post), the heart of the community beats as strong as ever in its people and relationships. Lots of families came out for the Church Street Festival, setting up tables and tents where they sold homemade food, drinks, and treats. The welcome we received was as warm as family when we bought homemade lemonade and tea cakes from Miss Lizzie and her family, and hands down the best ribs I've ever had from the family set up next to them.
As we sat and enjoyed our food and drink, we chatted with Miss Lizzie and her family, surprising them all with how far we had traveled to get there from Philadelphia and, ultimately, Budapest. Miss Lizzie was the only one of her siblings who had never left Indianola, and we talked with her about what Church St. used to be. Miss Lizzie was accompanied by two of her six children, one daughter who had also been the only one in her generation never to leave Indianola, and another who had moved out of state but recently moved back home. They made sure we were comfortable, kept our lemonade cups filled, and chatted with us like long lost friends. When we left we all got big hugs from Miss Lizzie and her daughters, who also insisted on getting photos with us.
Bottom line -- and I say this with full affection for my CT-NY-Philly-New England-Northeastern roots -- Southern people are nicer.