It is so common to do an interview and ask the question “So, where are you from?” and receive the response “Kind of from everywhere, I grew up an Air Force (or military) brat.”
The friends we have had who have come to Minot courtesy of the U.S. Air Force share their life journey that may have started overseas in Germany, passed through a number of states and bases, and now they are in Minot. Favorite bases tend to be where you think they would be, Germany, Korea, Hawaii, or California. To be honest, when they list Malmstrom or Minot their tone of voice often drops in enthusiasm…but not always. Honestly as we have gotten older, we have met a growing number of couples who have come back to retire in Minot.
However, this article is not necessarily about the advantages of retiring in Minot, instead I am going to write the story about us “Small Town North Dakota Brats”. Keep reading and learn about the journey that begins in Maddock, North Dakota, just down the road.
I never thought of myself as a Small Town Brat. I suppose mainly because I lived in the same house, on the same street, under the same elm tree, for nearly 20 years. My birth certificate would list Maddock, North Dakota as where I was born, my high school graduation certificate is from Maddock High School, and when queried about my hometown I say that I was born and grew up in Maddock, but really Minot is really my hometown now, because I left Maddock in 1976. Except for a 4-year stint at the University of North Dakota, my adult life has been in Minot.
My only PCS was from UND to Minot, and well that’s OK because I hate to move. That is the first characteristic of a Small Town Brat and probably won’t surprise you that we purchased our home in NW Minot in 1978, and we are still in that same home, on the same street, under believe it or not, a large elm tree.
Our kids grew up in Minot, and you may expect me to say, they are all still living in Minot, but nope, to the contrary, they left Minot. 2 live in North Dakota, and one just purchased a home in California. He is the youngest, and definitely a vagabond. His places of residency could certainly rival any AF Brat that I have met. And, he has one thing in common with many of those kids who were forced to live in Minot (note: I don’t say forced very often) I am pretty sure he will not be packing a U-Haul and moving back to Minot very soon. His wife is from California, born and raised, and does not tolerate the below zero wind chills very well.
As well defined as the term and life of an AF Brat is, Small Town Brat is too. In a crowd of 20 people, I am betting over half are Small Town Brats (really, there is no big town in North Dakota).
You may think there are no similarity between an Air Force and a Small Town brat, but there is. If you live on a base, you normally live within the security of a fence. A lot of the young couples that I know who live on Minot AFB talk about the safety and security of their kids. They can normally roam their neighborhood and be under the close scrutiny of the many parents who are residents.
Much is the same in small town North Dakota. I remember taking off after supper and meeting friends at the local swimming pool. Later we would sit on the edge of the small creek that ran through town and skip rocks across the surface. As dusk took over the sky, there were the sound of frogs, crickets, and coyotes, yes coyotes. That was our cue to head for home.
I am pretty sure that Small Town Brat will never be as popular as an AF Brat in Minot, but it maybe should be. There is a bit of swagger when someone announces they are an AF Brat. It is more of an apologetic mumble when someone announces that he or she is from just up the road. I can certainly appreciate that all of those neat places to live comes with a pretty high price, the first being moving. In our small town school in Maddock, we knew exactly where the 4th grade classroom was, and 9 times out of 10, the teacher had been the 4th grade teacher for years. We often hear about the quality of the Minot schools, but we know that moving to a new town, and a new base will mean a new school. I have heard the kids learn to take it in stride. I can’t imagine my Dad dropping me off at the school the next town over where I didn’t know anybody, or where the lockers are, or how they do their lunch break, or, well you get the picture.
So, here’s a salute, a salute to Air Force and Small Town brats. We made it through, and we have lived to tell about it.
Best Kept Secret
I am going to take a slight detour today and give you a few photos of the new Discovery Center. There was a media tour today, and we got a chance to look under the tent flap. WOW!! Before anyone PCS’s out this summer, you will need to pay a visit. You will be amazed. It’s not quite ready to open yet, but I am told they are very, very, close.
The indiscretions of youth were much more charming in the days before they were spread all over the internet.