Christiansburg, Ohio is the sort of town you’d pass if you weren’t paying attention. It sits about 28 miles outside of Dayton on lush, expansive farmland. The winding country roads that lead you there are lined with red worn barns, silos decorated in overgrown ivy, and rusty functioning windmills. It’s quaint, yet breathtakingly beautiful.
As you enter town, a wave of nostalgia hits. You’re taken back to a simpler time when hard work, community, and respect for your neighbors were essential to living a good life. There are no fences; no divisiveness. There is one general store that sells candy for a nickel. The town’s newsletter is word of mouth. You know everyone, and everyone knows Kermit and Mary; the couple who’s stayed in the same house for 71 years, while maintaining a membership with AAA for the last 42.
Kerm and Mary’s rural romance began as kids growing up on neighboring family farms. They became high school sweethearts, destined to love the other. Kerm promised her marriage, but as the threat of a second World War became a reality, it was put on hold. Kerm was sent to Germany, serving his country as a heavy artillery operator. Mary had faith he would return. When he did, he kept his promise.
In 1947, they purchased a fixer-upper in Addison, now known as Christiansburg, for $4,500. At the time, the village (as Kerm and Mary like to call it) didn’t have city-run electricity or water. They depended on a well that sat on their property; but they really depended on each other. Fixing, maintaining and adding on to their house wasn’t an annoyance. It was something they took pride in.
As time passed, and their family grew from two to five, they found a trusted partner with similar values to their own. They called on AAA to ensure their family would be protected, no matter what changes they’d encounter down the road. They watched their kids have kids, and the village turn into a town, and continued to fortify the house that stands for the values they believe in.
You feel it as soon as you step into the house now. Antiquated yet relevant advice is stitched on pillows, one reading, “When life falls to pieces, make a quilt.” You don’t want to touch too much, but you want to observe everything. The house is in pristine condition, yet Mary is constantly apologizing for the mess. When asked how he kept the house in such great condition after 71 years, Kerm humbly responds, “just a little elbow grease.”
Kerm and Mary built a home, and unknowingly built the foundation of Christiansburg. The house is a symbol of the goodness they stand for; that the community stands for. Some say it takes a village to raise a child. It took Kerm and Mary to raise the village of Christiansburg; with a little love, a lot of hard work, and one iconic house backed by the trust AAA provides.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2018 issue of AAA World.