Guess Where I Grew Up

This past weekend on a speaking trip I had a little extra time Sunday morning to drive up to the small, one-high-school-town I lived in 30 years ago as a kid. What a reminiscent little jaunt!

Hmmmm. Maybe I’ll have a little contest seeing if you can guess where this town is (better keep reading).

I stopped by my little elementary school, the house I lived in back then (see pic to right), and the church that my dad pastored at the time. It’s crazy how nostalgic this small town is for me. I only lived there three years (from age 7 to 10). But I have such strong memories of riding my little bike with the big banana seat around the neighborhoods (yeah… it was rockin!), walking home from school with my brother (remember when kids walked home from school?), climbing a tree in my backyard, playing football with my dad and brother on the front grass…

Good times!

I drove around the town in my rental car taking it all in. I couldn’t believe how many of the little streets I remembered, although it was strange driving a car instead of peddling a bike. I drove by several of my friends’ houses—my 8 and 9-year-old friends from 30-years ago—wondering if their parents still lived there. I even saw the edge of the creepy-looking woods where my buddy Mark Krouse and I got lost for about 30 minutes—it felt like a day!

As I pulled up to my school a nice memory popped in my head. You see, my mom or dad used to pick up my brother Thom and I from school when the weather was bad during the winter. I saw the spot where they usually parked our little brown family car, a 1976 Volkswagen Dasher. One particular Friday after school my brother and I arrived at the car to find both my mom and dad in the car with a couple suitcases in the back.

Thom and I were no dummies… we almost never traveled those days. So we immediately wondered what was going on. My parents tried to play it off. “Oh, really? Are there suitcases back there? Hmmmmm.”

I don’t even remember how far the drive was, but probably within an hour or so we pulled up to a little motel called the LampLighter(funny that I remember the name). I don’t know where it was or even remember what the rooms looked like. I just remember walking through the snow covered parking lot into the little motel lobby… and seeing the indoor pool! This was paradise for Thom and I! My parents’ little surprise trip to the LampLighter was the highlight of our year. (In retrospect… I think the place was probably just a rinkydink little motel. But we didn’t care. We were swimming in the middle of winter!)

It’s amazing what you can remember when you take time to look around your childhood stomping ground.

Random Contest Idea: I can’t remember if I’ve ever blogged or written about this little town. I know I’ve mentioned it speaking. So let’s see if any of you will be able to figure out where it is. Here’s the pic I shot of the church from my phone. This is the church I attended when I was 7 through 10 years old! My dad was the pastor there for 3 years. (If no one gets the answer by noon on Monday Pacific Time, I’ll add a hint in the comments.)

THE CONTEST: I’ll give a copy of any one of my books (your choice) to the first person who uses the comment section below to tell me where this church this is (what city, etc.). (one guess per person)

I’ll give you a quick hint to start. It’s not even half an hour from this thing!

Good luck!

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
[Are you getting this daily blog in your email inbox?] If not, it's real easy-go here.
This entry was posted in Parenting, Personal, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Guess Where I Grew Up

  1. Kelly Sykes says:

    Well, since that is the St Louis MO arch by the river… it would have to be near St Louis…I grew up in a tiny town in the southwest corner of MO…and the Lamp Lighter sounds really, really familiar…not sure what town that it was in, but it might be a chain of motels in MO.

  2. Kelly Sykes says:

    ok, so I did some digging and there is a Lamplighter Inn in Springfield, MO…now I know why it sounded so familiar, I was born in Springfield and lived there until I was 12 and went to college there. But Springfield is alot farther than a half hour from St Louis so I don’t know if this is the same motel.

  3. Daniel Harding says:

    Google was not my friend. You have said that your dad pastored in Illinois so therefore I figured I would find a church that he had pastored near St Louis and bingo!. Nope, no bingo, in fact not even a bing. Oh well.

  4. Muuuaaaaahahahahahah! Finally a question that just might be GOOGLE proof! 🙂 Yes!

    But you guys have done pretty good so far. Yes… it’s within a half hour of St. Louis… and I’ll drop ya this hint… it’s in IL. Good ol’ land of Lincoln.

    Kelly… Funny, I never even thought of looking up that Lamplighter. I’m gonna do that now. Heck… I’m gonna call my dad and mom and ask them if that’s the one! (Sing it, “Memories…”)

  5. Kelly Sykes says:

    You gotta let me know if the Lamplighter in Springfield was the one you went to!

    Hmmm….Land of Lincoln, huh?

  6. Rick says:

    Here’s my one shot in the dark… Collinsville, Illinois?

  7. Oh! We have a winner! Good job Rick! (How’d you guess that? Or did you hear me talk about it sometime?)

    First Baptist Church of Collinsville, IL. My dad pastored there from 77 to 80. Funny little bit of trivia, author/preacher Gordon McDonald was pastor at that same church in the early seventies.

    So Rick… you got it. I’ll email ya. Email me back and let me know which of my books you want! I’ll ship it to ya!

  8. Rick says:

    I did a lil searching for the word “Illinois” on your web site. One of the first instances was when you were interviewing someone (or vise versa) and you used Collinsville Illinois as a hypothetical situation… ie. “If I were a youth pastor at say… Collinsville Illinois, with a population of about 500…” I then put Collinsville to the test by matching against all the criteria you mentioned in the post (in Illinois, close to St. Louis, etc.). So far so good, right? So then I began to think… Why in the world, of all the places in the country, would he pull out “Collinsville, IL” as his hypothetical situation… Then I thoughy, I get one free shot, might as well take it. Thanks for your generousity, I have been looking forward to reading your book “Connect” but haven’t got around to ordering it yet, sooo… I would like that as my “reward”. I’ll send you my info. Thanks again,
    Rick

  9. Rick… you should have been a cop!

    Good work!

    I got your email too. I’ll send that CONNECT book right out to ya!

    Thanks brotha!

  10. Heath says:

    That is First Baptist Church in Collinsville, IL…where their mission statement is: “We are all about relationships.” (kind of ironic if you ask me)

    It is Googleable…but it took me awhile.

  11. Heath says:

    TOO late!…I was busy searching and did not refresh before I posted my previous comment. However, I was not taking a shot in the dark – here’s how the much longer story of my research went:

    Started with a search for the bell tower there in front of the building – no luck.

    Then checked for your dad’s name in any newspaper articles in the area – strike two.

    Stumbled onto something when I pulled up Mark Krouse’s name in an obituary…in Collinsville.

    Searched all the baptist churches in town (since your photo was saved as “baptist”)…found the First Baptist’s website with their slogan about relationships and knew I was getting close!

    Just to be sure I GOOGLED the church, then used the “street view” to spot the same bell tower.

    Now I’m going to take a nap!…with no book to show for it!!

  12. Wow… I guess Heath should be a cop too.

    Good job brotha!