Facebook groups such as I Grew Up in Elkhart, IN often indulge in nostalgia as members discuss restaurants, businesses and parks that are no longer in existence. Or members discuss milestones such as first jobs, high school graduation, and neighborhoods.

In late December, Katherine Corpe posted a more forward-looking vision. Laced with her own memories of growing up in Elkhart, Katherine pivoted to many reasons to be optimistic about the area’s future.

The post garnered 145 “likes” and “loves” and 28 comments, most praising Katherine’s view.

Published below, with Katherine’s permission and without any edits, is the post as it appeared in Facebook:

I am wanting to post for all of the Millienials that may feel they are too young join this group! Elkhart’s history is still blossoming and our community is in locomotion! As a young person I still have fantastic childhood memories of growing up in Elkhart County. 
I grew up in the 90’s spending summers in the back seat of my Mom’s Ford Explorer drinking root beer and eating burgers at the Simonton Lake Drive In. I watched fireworks on Independence Day with my family at Rice Field. I went sledding with my dad and brother at McNaughton Park. I have spent countless hours over a lifetime walking the trails and enjoying nature at Oxbow Park and Bonniville Mill. My first job ever was bagging groceries at Martin’s Grocery Store. My long-standing high school job was topping pizzas at Volcanos at Concord Commons. Both are institutions in our community. These are memories and traditions that have been passed down through generations. Many of these are the same past times my grandparents enjoyed with my parents when they were little.You know what? Someday if I have children, I’m going to do the same things with them. 
Moving forward through time however, I have been able to say I have experienced things my folks never did. I remember the excitement and energy of president Obama visiting my very own, Concord High School my senior year. This was mere months after the 2008 recession hit. A pivotal and difficult time for the Elkhart community as we had the highest rate of unemployment in the country at that time. I was able to see blues legend himself, Buddy Guy at the Learner Theater downtown. I have exhibited my artwork at the Midwest Museum of American Art and have even shown in Elkhart Art Walk. All of these events have happened within the last decade. Fairly new history on a timeline. Heck, I got to be apart of the history! I’m sure many years from now I will be able to share those memories with a younger generation and with others in my community just as those who have come before me have.
While I am apart of a younger generation in Elkhart, I feel strongly we young people are carrying the torch and hold a fresh new face for the Elkhart Community. Here we can revel and indulge in Elkhart’s fantastic past times while creating and celebrating new ones! The sky is truly the limit for ALL of Elkhart’s beautiful faces. Young, old, established , up and coming, etc. May we all celebrate and honor Elkhart with its rich history together as a community filled with diversity. our experiences, memories, and community are what sustain our bright future for the next generation.

Xo to all my fellow Elkhart People!


One Comment

  • Eric S Free says:

    This is such a well-written letter. While Elkhart has its problems, those who move around know that everywhere one goes, the grass often appears greener for a while. I left Elkhart, but it wasn’t a disdain for friends or people or policies. I followed a dream and an opportunity, and I have no regrets. I still maintain many strings that keep me attached to my roots.
    Katherine (that’s not what I called you as a student), I’ve been around Elkhart longer than you have been alive, and I’ve seen the city bend and flex and spring back time after time, Granted, Miles Laboratories and the band instruments aren’t coming back, but in your letter, you have captured the hopeful optimism that needs to accompany a town where older establishments and traditions morph into new places and people and activities.
    Keep smiling and keep forging forward. You’ll never realize how proud I am of you.

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