It never ceases to amaze me, the things that kids carry with them for a lifetime. Both of my boys were born in Kenosha, Wisconsin and…
Wait, sidenote: I often forget, since we moved back to my hometown area of Chicagoland when the boys were two and a half and seven months old, that they are actually Cheeseheads. In fact, whenever I’ve been asked I claim them as fellow Chicagoans without hesitation. Nothing personal, Wisconsin. (P.S. I will always root against the Green Bay Packers because I’m a Chicago Bears fan, even during the years when the Bears totally suck.) Dylan was the only baby born at what used to be Kenosha General Hospital on Father’s Day that year and two women from the Wisconsin Dairy Board brought us gifts, because that’s what happens in America’s Dairyland. I’m talking cow onesies, cheese, a cow stuffed animal, and other dairy-themed goodies.
It was all fun and games until they asked to take pictures of us. Immediately following a C-section? Were they crazy??? In light of the fact that they brought gifts and took time out of their Sunday to visit, I obliged anyway, much to my own horror.
ANYWAY, Chicago Pride. The boys both took lots of joy in rooting for the Bears over the Packers while attending their respective Wisconsin colleges, and they both have respectable Chicago accents that make it clear to everyone where their real home is.
In spite of the Chicago Pride involved, apparently the joke’s on me because their mother state keeps calling them home, via post-college experiences and childhood memories that stick to them like Velcro. Dylan enjoyed a post-college internship in Madison and returns often to hang with friends and Jason just got a fantastic job at one of the largest companies headquartered in Southeast Wisconsin, Pleasant Prairie to be exact.
Pleasant Prairie isn’t new to either one of them. It sits right between Kenosha to the north and the Illinois border to the south, and it’s home to a Jelly Belly Warehouse Tour, which we have done several times.
Back in the early nineties I drove through Pleasant Prairie regularly on my way to do my grocery shopping at the commissary on the Navy base at Great Lakes. On the way, we had to drive right by a factory that spewed pure white smoke into the sky every hour of every day. Toddler Dylan was fascinated by it and looked out for it when he knew we were headed in that direction.
Over the years he’s brought it up when we’re in the car together in that area (he’s twenty-four now, by the way). A couple of weeks ago when he and I moved Jason into his new apartment, we were talking about all of the great amenities he’s got at his disposal (laundry in the unit, workout center, indoor parking…), and Dylan mentioned one I hadn’t thought about:
“Oh, and it’s so cool that you have a great view of the Cloud Factory from here!”
The Cloud Factory.
The Cloud Factory!!
From the mouths of babes who have grown into young men.
How time flies. How amazing is our ability to remember things.
It stuck with him all these years, such a simple, kid-like thing. I love his name for it, and since I have no idea what this building actually produces, he could be right. In fact, for our family’s purposes, he definitely is.