The Deerton Retirees Walking Tour was a perennial favorite of the small town’s rapidly greying populace. Led by volunteer guides from the local high school, the tour combined historical research with the latest gossip. Retirees had someone to tell their stories to, the kids had recent events to share, and everyone seemed to have a good time.

“Did I ever tell you that I was the mayor of Deerton?” said Sheila Donohue to her walking tour guide, high school senior Abby Holtzmann. “For a whole year, after the previous mayor was forced out of office for taking bribes. He took $1000 to let them tear down the old railway depot to build that service station, you know.”

“So I’ve been told,” said Abby with a smile.

“Now, I wasn’t a politician,” continued Sheila. “Never was. Never ran for elected office in my life! But I came to all the meetings. I was very active, very educated. So when the position was vacan they asked me to step in and hold it until they could hold a new election.”

“I bet it took a while for that to happen,” said Abby. She was leading the walking tour group toward the Euclid Trail, which wound through a depression next to state route 313.

“Over a year!” Shelia chuckled. “They couldn’t find anyone to get enough signatures! But I made the most of my time. We made a lot of changes that year, a lot that you can still see. 1978-1979. A big year for Deerton.”

“Of course,” said Abby. Raising her voice for the rest of the group, she returned to her spiel. “Now I don’t know how many of you were in town when it happened, but this depression used to be filled with water. Lake Tecumseh, they called it, or Lake Deerton. Depends on if you asked someone from here or Exeter.”

The retirees snickered at the mention of their regional rival in Tecumseh County, who had just walloped the Deerton Pumas at hoops.

“The lake emptied after the dam holding the river back burst, leaving this depression that we now use as a park,” said Abby.

“I was in charge when that happened, you know,” said Sheila. “The DNR came to us and said that the dam was fit to bust. They told us we weren’t allowed to fix it because of the environment, even though it wouls have been an easy fix. Damn Jimmy Carter and his tree-huggers. All we could do was make sure nobody was hurt.”

“And, luckily, nobody was,” Abby said. “Come on, let’s take a look at the pavilion the Scouts put up in 1988.

The retirees approached the gazebo–never used, due to its soft wood eaves being a magnet for yellowjacket nests.

Sheila took a look at the dedication plaque. “1988,” she said. “That’s just ten years after I left office. Did I ever tell you, young lady, that I was mayor of Deerton for a whole year?”

Abby smiled gently. “Did you have anything to do with the dam bursting and emptying the lake that used to be here?”

“Oh yes! Why, those hippies Jimmy Carter installed in the DNR wouldn’t let us fix it, you know!” Sheila bubbled.

Alzheimer’s had been gnawing at the edges of Sheila’s world for some time now. Abby and the othher retirees had heard the story no less than ten times already, but none of them had the heart to stop Sheila from having her moment, over and over again, during her very last walking tour.

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