Confession time. I had never been to the village of Wakeman.
Driving in to the village limits on the overcast morning of May 21, 2008, I wasn't quite sure what to expect either. It was cool for a late May day and it was very quiet in the town. Not very many cars were out and because the students attend school at Western Reserve, there weren't too many children out either. Wakeman is set up in a big loop and I figured there was no better way to acquaint myself with the town then to get to know the streets.
Enter Sterk's Restaurant.
Hoping that I would find somebody to talk to that morning, I stumbled upon Sterk's and immediately found what I was looking for. Regulars who frequent the establishment were sitting at tables and casually conversing. Once I started talking to one table, another was chiming in.
This town loved to talk.
If you know me, you know that I will talk to just about anybody and after my "One Wednesday" in Wakeman, I felt like I had found a community where I could fit right in.
Wakeman residents and visitors would direct every conversation with a selflessness and genuine care that can only be found in a small town. If I needed to know where something was, not only was I told, but I was shown.
Enter Jim Morman.
Not only is Jim the President of the Small Business Association, but also the owner and funeral director at Morman Funeral Home. Did I mention that Jim was also the first person in town to have a golf cart that was passed by the new golf cart ordinance in the village? Oh, and I also got a personal tour of the village in that golf cart. Once again, the hospitality was more than I ever expected. Jim took the time to show me the area and introduced me to everyone we could find.
Known for living in a "bedroom community," Wakeman residents mostly commute out of the village for work.
Unless you own or work for a small business, residents will most likely be traveling out of town to do their daily activities. I have to say, it was obvious when people started getting home from work because the traffic picked up and people started to appear everywhere. An added bonus: the sun came out. I found kids on jungle gyms and a family's bonfire. People were playing pick-up games of football in the Wakeman Community Park, while others were gathered at Jillian's for some pizza and ice cream after the game. It was the all-American town.
There was a comfort and charm about waving to the police officer as I walked the streets and seeing Bob Tite and others over and over again in just a matter of hours. I had become part of the landscape that Wednesday.
There is a timeless innocence to a small town and Wakeman is no exception.
So if you are out and about and on your way to Wakeman, I can't guarantee you a golf cart ride, but I can guarantee you a genuine community with a great heart.