It’s common for people to ask each other where they grew up; where they’re from; where’s home? In this time of greater mobility and seemingly fewer community connections, these can be challenging questions for some while for others, it’s straight forward – they have a strong connection to a place.
Consider the example of Paul Primak. Paul was an “Air Force brat.” He and his family never lived one place for more than a few years. Paul’s family moved to Lakeview in 1970 and a year later he graduated from Lakeview High School and left for college. He lived in Lakeview for a total of one year, yet it’s the place he calls home. I saw Paul in June when I was in Lakeview for the annual Daly Fund trustee meeting. Paul was in town to present a painting of four Canadian “Honker” geese to Lakeview High School. The painting was done by Paul’s 1971 fellow graduate, Jimmy Johnston. When I asked Paul about his connections to Lakeview, he said, “It’s the place I consider home; it’s where I made lifelong friends; it’s the place I go back to.”
Even people who don’t “live” in a place can form an emotional connection that lasts a lifetime. In 1953, David Maxey was nineteen and had just finished his freshman year at Harvard when he went west to Plush, an unincorporated Lake County ranching community. David, who had grown up in Philadelphia, hoped to work on a hay crew for the summer. He ended up working on Con Lynch’s ranch along with Jim Lynch, who was a year younger and, like David, would go on to law school. I met David this summer in Philadelphia as I was starting my bike ride to Chicago. David told me about his great love for Lake County, specifically Plush and the Warner Valley. In describing his good fortune to have ended up working at the Lynch ranch, David wrote:
All that good fortune I place in memory under the banner of Plush. I push Plush’s boundaries outward to include the new world I discovered in Lake County, Oregon, the Lynch family, the Lynch ranch, mowing, raking, bunching, and stacking hay, wild life of all kinds that I hadn’t seen before, branding, fence- building, and the unforgettable members of the ranch crew I worked with, summer after summer, who accepted the “Kid from Back East,” even though my presence might continue to puzzle them.
Bernard Daly spent less than half of his life in Lake County, yet it’s the place he considered home. He loved Lake County. As he wrote in his will,
It is my desire to help, aid and assist worthy and ambitions young men and women of my beloved County of Lake…
You might be thinking that there’s something special about Lake County. There is, but there’s also specialness in places throughout the world. Psychologists report that our need for belonging is greater than the need for self-esteem. We want to be a part of a community, connected to a place. It’s part of why people root for the home sports team.
Like Bernard Daly, the basketball star, Lebron James, gave millions of dollars to fund college scholarships for the youth of Akron, Ohio. The students in the Lebron James program are known as “promise students,” a reminder of the promise that Lebron made to them and all the youth of his hometown, just as Bernard Daly did for his “hometown” a century ago.