You could tell the couple having lunch at Oddfellas Cantina came to town looking for property. They spread their real estate brochures and maps out on the table and made notes about various pieces of land for sale.

Finally, as happens often, they approached my table with questions in their eyes.

"Excuse us, do you live here?"


"Could we ask you some questions about the area?"


They sat down and we shared coffee while they asked about land prices, cost of living, availability of services, crime, weather and all the other things that people want to know when considering a place to move.

"Hi, I’m Cindy. This is George." Both seemed a few years older than me. I asked where they are from.


"Illinois? How on earth did you end up here looking for a place to live?"

"Well, we’ve wanted to visit Floyd County for a long time — more than 30 years."

"Really? Why?"

George produced a faded newspaper article, written by a reporter for their hometown paper in 1974.

"This is why. The writer made it seem like this place was special. We decided we wanted to visit and perhaps retire here."

I don’t know if I blushed or not. I laughed.

"You’re from Alton, Illinois."

"How did you know?"

"Because I wrote this article. I was a reporter for The Alton Telegraph for 11 years, from 1969-81."

It was their turn to laugh. I asked about people I knew in Alton. We discovered mutual friends.

We talked at length about the differences between a Midwestern Mississippi River town and a Blue Ridge Mountain community. I looked at the properties they had circled in the real estate brochures and told them what I knew about each.

We exchanged phone numbers and email addresses and they left on their quest.  This morning, an email arrived.

"We made an offer and have a contract down on 52 acres of land with a nice farmhouse. We hope to move to Floyd next year."

Small world.