Welcome to Brewster

Here’s a column I wrote recently for the Colby Free Press newspaper about my new hometown:

About this time last summer, I moved to Brewster with my husband, infant son and mutt dog. It had been a while since I lived in a small town, but Brewster is quickly starting to feel like my home.

We had been living in South Dakota where I was stationed in the military, and once our son was born, we relocated. I’m not from around here, but I married Kansas. My husband grew up in Colby and his family still lives here.

So, there we were in Brewster last summer with a truckload of boxes to unpack and a baby just a few days old.

I was completely overwhelmed, to say the least. I’ve heard some of the most stressful things in life are moving, having kids and changing jobs. All three at the same time certainly tripled the stress!

Then, one day not long after we moved to town, my family took a walk through downtown Brewster. (Some days, the only way to keep my sanity was to take our fussing baby for a walk.)

We wandered past some of the businesses that make up Brewster’s downtown–TJ’s Tire, S&T, The Craft Peddler–and into Brewster’s community-owned grocery store for the first time.

While we were browsing, a woman I’d never seen before came up to us and asked us if we were the Alwins.

As sleep-deprived as I was at that moment, I’m sure I gave her a look that, more than anything, said “huh?” I managed to fumble some sort of affirmative answer, to which she replied that she had something for us in her car.

You know that point in a conversation where you’re just so confused that you don’t even know how to ask a question? Yep, that’s where I was. Someone I didn’t know, in a town to which I had just moved, happened to be in the grocery store with me, knew my name and had something for me in her car.

When I followed her out of the store, she handed me a gift bag containing a baby quilt, and a welcome note from the church ladies of Brewster.

I was still a gaping mess, but I think I managed to thank her before we parted ways.

Though I don’t know exactly which “church ladies” sewed that quilt, I wish I could thank them for that seemingly small act of kindness.

They made me feel welcomed in a place where I knew no one and was feeling very much like a fish out of water.

As the weeks went by, more Brewster residents went out of their way to make us feel at home. Visits from the welcome committee, sweet corn from neighbors and more, all including us in the community.

Every time I look at that quilt, I smile, and I look forward to telling our son its history.

He, of course, will never know what it’s like to feel out of place in our small town. He’ll grow up there, I hope, and it will be his hometown.

He’ll shop in that same store with me, patronize those downtown businesses, chat with our postmistress and see his name in the Lions Club calendar–all hallmarks of life in Brewster.

And, this month, he’ll be there to help Brewster celebrate its 125th anniversary. I’m not sure how many people have been blessed by this community and its people over its long history, but it’s three more now.

By the way, if you are in the northwest Kansas area next weekend, come on out to Brewster join in on the anniversary fun. There will be a fun run, antique car/tractor show, chili cook-off, parade, street dance and more!

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