It's Saturday morning and after a week of nerve racking meetings, crowded elevators, blaring sirens, and racing to catch the train...you are ready for this road trip.
You want to take a break from the rat race and schedules. You're going rogue and decide to gas up the vehicle and go where ever your finger hits the map. So, you take out an Illinois map, open it, close your eyes and put your finger down. You open your eyes and see the word Galena. That is now your destination.
The weather is beautiful. You look into the vast blue sky to see the puffy white clouds and they are blocked by the tall cold steel monuments reaching to the sky.
You get in your car, turn the key, turn on the radio...and you are off on your adventure.
Traffic is bogged down as usual. It's once again, bumper to bumper and your anxiety level is jumping up.
After about two hours of continual driving, you decide to stop in the quiet town of Elizabeth. You see the population sign of 700. Funny, you think, that there are more cars in a one mile stretch in the city than people in this little place.
You get out of your car to look around and decide it’s cute. You admire the buildings. They are short, made of brick, have large windows, and even have names at the top with years they were built.
You are so glad you’re out of the city traffic. Then, you take a deep breath and relax. Your anxiety has not only leveled off but has dropped.
You look around. You see a neat antique/thrift store, a coffee shop, a couple gift type stores, and a couple taverns.
You see a large three story building that is for sale that has a large banner across it which reads, “Bishops.” You peer in the windows and see a very large floor plan with antique display cases, and a milk company advertising sign from the 1950's.
You walk a few steps and see a huge wooden shark that catches your eye. You look up at the sign and see the words, "DEJAWOOD."
You admire the shark from afar and decide to inspect it closer. A man walks out of the store with his dog next to him and says…” Go ahead and touch it.”
You asked in a surprised manner...“Really? I can touch it?”
This astonished you. You've been conditioned not to touch things all your life. You've heard from your parents not to touch anything. There are signs threatening you with having to pay for an item if you break it.
“Yes,” he responded.
He continues by saying, "Go ahead, we WANT you to touch things here. Enjoy the beauty. Each piece is salvaged and saved from being burned as firewood, chipped to be landscaping, and is unique to not have a match anywhere else on Earth.”
You gently place your hand on the shark. It’s rough in some areas and smooth in others. You get brave and let your fingers feel the teeth which are sharp but not razor sharp. Your eyes now focus on seeing red brake lights sitting in traffic to seeing the detail in the wood. You see light and dark streaks of the grain, knots, holes, and cracks. It is not like the machine made to perfection products you see in big box stores from foreign lands. You are amazed and then smile.
The man turns, his dog follows, and he invites you into the store. He reaches into a cooler and hands you a bottle of water. You look at him hesitantly and say politely no thanks. He reassures you it is free and nice and cold.
You take the water, open it and take a swallow. It feels good going down your throat. The stress from the city life has been flushed out of your system.
Now in the store, you reach down and gently pat the dog. She sits and you play with her soft ears. You feel like you have been freed from a gigantic jail cell full of a few million people and vehicles.
Your eyes scan the store. There are tables, cutting boards, coasters, slabs of Live Edge Wood lay quietly proudly displayed for you.
The man asks where you are from and you tell him. He asks where you're heading too, and you answer. You don't feel anything but a friendly encounter.
The music is playing in the background and you walk from table to table touching each one. You are breaking the laws laid down on you. You feel defiant and energized.
The man asks you a few questions about your home, about your family, and your goals in decorating.
He explains that many people purchase their furniture from big box companies that tend to last less than a year before the finish wears off or the glued joints fall apart.
The wood products here, while they cost a bit more, he says...will last generations, therefore, cost averaging the price down to dollars or less per year. They are heirloom pieces. Most importantly, they are built by Americans in America using American products.
You say to him that you are on a trip and cannot put anything large in your car, but would love to get something smaller that will.
He walks you over to a wall and the dog follows both of you. She lays down right next to you.
He explains that every item whether large or small receives the same attention. Each piece is hand sanded, hand drilled, hand glued, and hand oiled.
By now, you've forgotten about going to your destination.
You decided to make a purchase, go get a burger, stop in the thrift shop and just forget about the time.
Forgetting about time is something you haven't done since you were a kid.
Welcome to Elizabeth, IL.