Being the editor of a small town newspaper, I sometimes forget to stop and enjoy what small towns are all about. The first time I visited Brady, I remember being in awe of the fact that someone could pay for gasoline by simply signing their name to a slip of paper that was already filled out by the time you got to the counter. I also remember the feeling I got going around town and hearing stories about who is related to whom, who was getting married to whom and what things were like on the weekends in small town U.S.A. As the editor of the newspaper, I can’t help but always be wondering what it is that I should be looking for that my readers will be interested in knowing. No matter where I go in Brady, no matter what time of day it is, my brain is always working. Sometimes, as some of you know, it also tends to forget. This past weekend, my family and I took a short drive south of here and attended the Mason Round-Up parade and activities on the square. I was rather looking forward to enjoying the small town atmosphere simply as an observer rather than as a reporter. I was glad we made the trip. My mother, Nancy, and my five-year-old nephew, Curtis, arrived from the DFW area late Friday afternoon. A nice meal at Caf’ at the Depot got the weekend off to a great start. I was given the opportunity to help a “friend in need” early Saturday morning so I was up and out of the house and in the country with my rifle by dawn. With the rest of the household still sleeping, I was standing in a field overlooking a perfectly sized porker my friend and I had just dispatched. I looked up and noticed one of those beautiful Texas sunrises. You know the ones where the sun peeks out from the clouds and showers the countryside with a soft orange glow. A calm, cool morning was just what I had been looking for. As instructed, I was back at the house by 8 a.m. to begin the process of eating breakfast and gearing the family up for the trip to Mason. As is usual in our house, no matter what level of planning takes place, we still struggle to leave on time. This was no exception. We planned to be early, but we barely made it to the square on time. We met up with friends Brian and Ginger Treadwell and their son, Jamie, at our predetermined location. We jockeyed for position to give the kiddos the best view and got all set up just as the fire truck was kicking things off. Standing on the sidewalk watching my daughter and nephew scurry about collecting candy thrown from the floats gave me the chance to slip back into the small town mode, no worrying about taking photos, no hustling about trying to get the story. This parade is what it was all about. Talking with friends and family, watching the parade and listening to kids scream with excitement when someone unloaded a handful of candy onto the ground in front of them. Aah, feel that’ Peaceful relaxation. The band was playing and the vendors were busy peddling their wares to the hundreds of guests. The large shade trees on the courthouse lawn were a welcomed sight as the temperature had already shifted from warm to hot. We purchased a couple of trinkets from some of the vendors, both of which were for my daughter. You see, when it comes to dresses or little “girlie” things, my daughter feels it is her duty to be as cute as possible. She wore her new bracelet and colorful crown the entire day. The smile on her face when she first put them on made the warm feeling inside grow stronger. We milled about on the courthouse lawn for awhile before heading to a restaurant for lunch. We even bumped into fellow newspaper people, Scott and Heather Wesner from Mason. We saw several other friends from our neighboring town. Corey Ash and his family were making their rounds as were many others from Brady. When we had our fill, we packed up and headed for home. After a quick nap for the kiddos, the rest of the afternoon was spent at the pool. Most of you know my fondness for shooting and hunting. Tom Sammons had called me earlier in the day to let me know that the 4-Hers were going to have a public 5-stand sporting clays shoot at the gun range Saturday evening. I hadn’t had a real chance to break in my new shotgun, so I could hardly wait to try out my skills on the range. When we arrived at the range, some of the kids were wrapping up a few rounds of sporting clays. The adults were soon given a chance to join in, and with a little coaching from Sterling Sammons, I fared quite well on the first round. I wasn’t so lucky the second time through. I guess I’ll continue to blame it on my contacts or whatever. Maybe it was the fact that my impromptu coach wasn’t right beside me giving pointers. Still, I enjoyed the outing and was impressed by the shooting abilities of more than one 4-Her. We got up Sunday morning and had breakfast and then got ready for church. After church, we again headed for the pool for one more chance to wear out the little ones so they would nap better that afternoon. The pool visit was shortened due to our visitors’ travel time, and we bade my mother and nephew farewell and headed back to the house for nap time. I usually take the time during the kids’ naps to enjoy some peaceful television watching or to peruse a golf or hunting magazine. This time, however, dear old dad decided to take a nap as well. Wow! An hour and a half nap! I don’t quite remember the last time that happened. Holly’s nap lasted only about 30 minutes before she was awakened by little Sam, but I held on for the long haul. A picnic on the living room floor with some crackers, cheese and cold cuts was the perfect ending for a perfect weekend. We watched a movie on television as a family and finished out the evening with Holly and I reading Bible stories to Brynn at bedtime. Sure, it was way past her normal bedtime, but time with the family is the reason I moved to a small town in the first place. What better way to spend it. So, if you haven’t done it in a while, stop and appreciate what life in a small town is like. You just might enjoy what you find. ‘J.S.