I grew up in what was a small town in the middle of Salt Lake County and one of things we were proudest of by living there is that we were an independent entity from most of the rest of the area.
In those days Murray didn't run on into Midvale and Salt Lake. When you drove down State Street, there were businesses, but you could tell where Murray ended and started. On other roads it was even more obvious, because the town was separated from others by agricultural land in most places.
But what made us unique to me was that we had few ties to the county or the city, other than the fact that many people commuted to work in those places. We had our own mayor and city council, we had our own organizations and we had our own school district that was sandwiched in between the two giants in the state, Granite and Jordan.
But more importantly there was a spirit that existed in Murray that was only matched by a couple of other communities in the county. Up until the mid-1950's Murray was a smelting and agricultural town. The Murray High Schools logo until that same time had been the Smelterites. While I was not in school at that time, I can just imagine the chants that came from the opposing teams student bodys at games during those days before the moniker was changed to the Spartans.
We had our own fire department, own police department, our own power company and water company.
And if you went to school there, you knew about 90 percent of the people in town.
While Murray still has a great deal of that independence, something changed when the town grew from 15,000 to over 40,000 in just a short few years. Something happened when the physical boundaries of the town were covered by homes and strip malls. Something happened when the town became a true suburb of the larger metropolitan area, rather than being in of itself somewhat self contained. But the shift wasn't so much the actual changes in the politics and the landscape as it was in the mind set.
I remember I used to go out with a number of girls that attended East High while I was in school. One of them once told me she thought hardly anything existed beyond 21st south and she even wondered if the streets were paved out there in the hinterlands of Salt Lake County.
Of course we were just about as uptown as they were, but the idea that we were not as smart or even "hicks" rubbed many in my small town the wrong way.
Today Murray is right in the middle of the Wasatch Front frey, with big traffic problems, new subdivsions and large business complexes. They are even being considered one of two sites for the new major league soccer stadium that it appears will be built in the next couple of years.
Progress, I guess. But whether that is good or bad, that is how my old home town has changed.
When I moved to Carbon County 14 years ago, one of the things I liked best about it was that it was so much like Murray was in my youth. Rural areas mixed with new houses. A small school district existed here that still had character. The area had police officers that you came to know by their first names because they not only lived in the community but they had real ties to it besides just doing the job they do.
On Saturday night, at the E-Center I saw that unique spirit come out during the championship girls basketball game. While Morgan, itself a very nice independent community had more fans at the game, the Carbon people stood out, not only by the blue they wore, but by the way they acted. For the most part they were respectful and courteous. After the game they followed the rules and didn't rush onto the floor, but held back until the team was moved off to one of the ends of the arena.
Most of all there was a spirit there that is hard to describe. It was a genuine love for not only the girls and the game, but for the fact that the community could just be in such a position and do it with dignity. Good people stand out in the big city, no matter where they are from.
No wonder I now call this my home town.