Love it or hate it, Madison, Ohio will always be a part of you if you grew up here. Personally, I couldn't wait to get out of Madison and its still not my most favorite place to be. However, there are definitely some distinct things that make our little small town on Lake Erie what it is.
1. No one actually knows where Madison is.
With the exception of a few people I met at college (mainly drunk guys at a party so who even knows if they were telling the truth) knew where Madison was. When you're from Madison, depending on how close you are to Cleveland, you get used to telling people you're from Cleveland,or if you're me who goes to school butt up against Cleveland, you tell them you're from "20 minutes East of Mentor." And of course get the ever confusion-ended, "Oh, I know Mentor!" in response.
2. Walmart is the landmark of your town.
While Walmart certainly has everything for cheap,you don't exactly want this to be the drawing attraction of your town. Unfortunately this is the case for our little town. Be it as it may, at least we have the stories to laugh at about when we thought it was the coolest thing to go hang out there in middle school and most likely tick off the workers by being our bratty 12 year old selves.
3. Madison is deserted on Friday nights in the Fall.
Everyone and their mother is up at the high school watching the football game. Whether it be because they know a player, a band member, cheerleader, or just enjoy the sport, you can bet that most of the town is in the stadium (randomly renamed Dick Hamblin field since I graduated two years ago?) While I was never a fan of football in high school, I suppose it is nice to see the whole town come together over something.
4. You have a pick of three restaurants if you're looking to stay close to home.
Unless you're willing to drive to Mentor, or at least Painesville, you have three main restaurants to choose from for your dining experience. I mean after all you're not a true Madisonite until you've dined at Joey's, Don Tequila, or Los Compadres. The age old question still stands on what Mexican restaurant is better, Donny T's or Compadres. Personally I don't care as long as I can get a burrito the size of my face covered in queso. However, you can never eat at Joey's without seeing at least eight members of your graduating class while you're shoving your face full of pasta and trying not to make eye contact with them.
5. You've been to/thrown a spaghetti dinner fundraiser at the Wagon Wheel.
For whatever reason, these were all the rage for a few years in the mid 2000's. Aka prime middle school years for me. I remember walking around my neighborhood peddling these tickets like my life depended on it. In all reality, it was for my middle school cheer leading squad and I'm pretty sure we used the funds to get new pom-pom's. Either way, you've been in attendance to at least one of these $10 pasta nights in the dusty, cigarette smoke scented bar by the lake.
6. If you're in the mood for fast food or pizza.
Take a drive down Rt.20 and you have the pick of literally any fast food chain you could want. As far as pizza, we have many chains but they managed to spread these out over the town. Georgio's and Pizza Hut sit on Rt. 20 too but if you really need some Domino's you're going to have to make the trek up to the village.
7. Starbucks is not a part of our daily lives.
I cannot tell you the amount of times people I met at school were literally flabbergasted that a Starbucks isn't around the corner from my house. I mean can't say it would do wonderful things for my coffee addiction or wallet if it did anyway. The closest Dunkin is 15 minutes away, and Starbucks a half an hour. Still honestly considering petitioning for them to put one in next to the completely unnecessary Circle K they put across from Walmart.
8. Your teachers knew you as "So and So's sister/brother."
I suppose it's both a blessing and a curse that our high school was small enough that teacher's actually learned your name. However, I can't even count how many times I was referred to as "Erin's little sister," "Little Maresco," or called my sister's name. My favorite was when they wouldn't realize they were calling me Erin, and get annoyed that I wasn't answering them.
9. You know what "the Little Brown Jug" is.
Going back to that bullet about everyone being in the football stadium on Friday nights. Well when the Perry game came around, you bet your butt you better buy your ticket on Monday of that week. Students, parents, alumni, and distant cousins were cramming in to Madison or Perry's stadium to see the battle for the coveted Brown Jug. Quite literally a little ceramic jug painted brown, with scores of the game painted on the side. Whoever won that game got to keep the jug for the entire year, as well as bragging rights. Perry is the town next door to us but the hubbub over this game you would think that we were playing for ownership over each others towns.
10. Going out really means going to GOTL.
Ahhhh Geneva on the Lake. Quite the experience to say the least. If you haven't spent at least a part of one summer experiencing the trash fest that is Geneva on the Lake after dark, then you aren't a true Madisonite. Even though it's a town over and actually probably really scary, I still make it a point to take anyone who come's to visit me to GOTL. Just to give them the full Madison, OH experience.
11. Old-fashioned days.
This festival was what you lived for in middle school! Once early August rolled around, the whole town was crowded around main street to watch the parade. Even though it was nothing more than over priced food trucks, weird carnival games, and old cars. Still nothing beat begging your mom for money to blow on fried food so you could hang out with your friends that you just couldn't wait to see once school started two weeks later.
12. There always seems to be a levy up to pass.
Does anyone even know what the levy is for? Probably not but we always seem to be trying to pass one. "Vote Yes! One issue 6!" or something of the like is plastered all over everything when November rolls around. The only one I ever paid attention to or cared about was when they threatened to get rid of the choir program. Oh, but don't worry, that one passed and they used the choir's biggest fundraiser of the year to lobby for passing another one (*rolls eyes*).
13. You graduated in the same place you were forced to learn the proper rules of "pickle ball."
That's right, we graduated in our musty, un-air conditioned gymnasium of the high school. Also, pickle ball really was a game we played my senior year in Racquet Sports. If you grew up in Madison, you know the pure torture it was to sweat your butt off waiting to cross the stage for your diploma.I mean after all, they crammed the gym to maximum capacity and then some for the sole purpose of saving money and not renting out another venue.
14. More than half your graduating class continued on to the same college.
I fortunately was not part of the greater masses who all picked the same school. It's not exactly like this is on purpose, but it seems like a yearly occurrence. Every class seems to become fixated on one university and half of the graduates declare it as their new home for the next four years. Whether or not they end up staying is always up in the air. Personally, I wanted to get as far separated from MHS that I possibly could, but hey, to each their own.
15. You take the lake for granted.
Growing up with Lake Erie quite literally down the street from my house, I never thought much of it. However, after I moved to college I realized this isn't something everyone has. While I would hesitate to call it a luxury because I won't put more than my feet in it, it is something people of Madison seem to take for granted. It's always been part of our neighborhood. If we want to go to the beach we can be there in a matter of minutes. Even people just an half hour away in a certain direction can't say this. We really should learn to appreciate it more.
16. At least one person from your class thinks they are a rapper.
I don't know why, and I probably never will.But it seems like every graduating class to pass through the halls of MHS has at least one brave soul who thinks they were born to rap. I'm a huge supporter of chasing your dreams but please try to remember that we live in a rural suburb surrounded by farmland and nurseries. What on earth are you possibly writing raps about?
17. You have referred to Madison as "Madtown."
My eighth grade English teacher tried to insist her and her friends came up with this nickname. Maybe they did,maybe they didn't. All I know is they literally used to sell shirts at Sports n' Sports that had this on it. I guess it's an attempt at making Madison sound cooler than it is. I personally only say it when I'm joking around because I don't want people to actually think that is the name of my home.
Whether you love it or hate it, Madison is our home. It may be a classic small town, but hey it's our town. While I could certainly sit here and add more and more things to this list, I really should wrap this up. After all,I move into a new college tomorrow and have a whole new crop of people to tell stories of "Madtown" to.