PLAINVIEW (AP) -- There are a thousand little towns with a thousand stories.
Most are forgotten as the years slip by or the towns disappear from maps. But in one small town, Ron Manzow is trying to save the stories.
He goes by different titles -- school teacher, museum curator -- but mostly, Manzow is a storyteller. When Manzow holds court in the old Methodist Church and talks about people and places long since gone, one can almost picture life as it was.
See that picture on the wall of the old water tower? Manzow shares a story an elderly woman shared with him. It seems back in the 1930s or 1940s the woman -- then a little girl -- and her friends climbed to the top of the water tower. The police chief drove by and begged them to come down; he finally coaxed them down after he promised to buy them a soda.
Or how about the story of old Doc Slocum? Years ago, he would travel to houses in Plainview and the surrounding area on a sleigh pulled by his horse. It seems that the horse was often stubborn and refused to pull the sleigh so Doc Slocum would have to give the horse a snort of whiskey to get him going.
How Manzow came to be Plainview's resident storyteller is rather simple. He was born and raised in Plainview and grew up in a house his parents shared with his grandparents.
When he got older, Manzow collected antiques or other artifacts of the Plainview area's past, but his dream was to open his own museum.
About 10 years ago, he tried, but plans fell through.
Then the Methodists built a new church in Plainview and were trying to figure out what to do with their old building, the oldest church in town. Built in 1866, the building was still in good shape and church members didn't want to see it torn down or used as a warehouse.
So, church members sold it to a local board of volunteers who run the history center. Manzow is the unofficial leader of the group and is the one you're most apt to find if you show up on Saturdays when the history center is open. He loves to talk with visitors.
''When people visit, you always hear a story you've never heard before,'' he says.
Manzow then launches into a Civil War story. In the 1860s during the war, the Plainview area was a thriving center of commerce home to dozens of families. One family in the area was the Carroll family, with 12 children.
Austin Carroll, whose photograph hangs on a wall of the history center, was killed in the Battle of Nashville. He was so determined to enlist in the Union cause that he and some friends walked from Plainview to Fort Snelling.
Manzow isn't sure what the future holds for the history center; he'd like to be able to have it open more than one day a week. All Manzow knows is he'll probably keep telling stories.
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