Back in 1966, the makers of Botany Suits had a famous advertising campaign built around the slogan "You never get a second chance to make a first impression!"
That same saying has also been attributed to both Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde and American humorist Will Rogers, but there is no concrete evidence of either actually saying it.
Personally, I don't really care who gets the credit for that thought, I simply know that expression best captured some of my initial feelings about Quincy.
It was at this time of the calendar, almost 20 years ago to the day, I first visited Quincy. I was trying to decide if I would be making this town my new home.
It was a big decision. Prior to my first journey to the banks of the Mississippi, the farthest left of Ohio I had ever been was Indianapolis. I had seen quite a bit of the eastern part of the country, but had never ventured west.
During my first 24 hours in Quincy (I had planned to stay three or four days), my car died.
My first thought was, "What in the world am I doing here?"
My second thought was, "What am I going to do?"?My knowledge of the internal combustion engine was somewhere between zero and ... well, zero. To make a long story short -- I'm only allowed so much space here -- I was able to get a nice gentleman from a local garage to come examine my car.
Dollar signs were dancing in my head. A lot of dollar signs.
He was able to figure out what was wrong after quite a bit of time, then had to go back to the shop to get the proper parts. The process took the better portion of the morning.
The mechanic's name was John, and he was an extremely nice guy. He was explaining what he was doing, what wasn't working, etc. I didn't want to tell John that I had absolutely no clue what he was talking about. I nodded quite a bit, and threw in an occasional look of concern.
During the rather lengthy repair process, I learned about John and his family, and he learned that I was in town visiting and was considering moving here. The possibility of that happening seemed to be lessening as the day advanced. My first trip to Quincy could very well be my last, I was thinking.
When John finally finished, I was almost scared to ask how much the bill would be. But I did, reaching for my wallet.
"Don't worry about it, sir," John said. "This one's on us. I just hope you are able to move here and make Quincy your new home. I think you'll like it here."
I was stunned. Absolutely stunned. "Thank you," I said. "I really appreciate this. I cannot tell you how much."
I have never forgotten John's act of kindness that day. I have not seen him since, and the business he worked for closed a few years ago. But that was my first true insight to the heart and soul of this wonderful town.
Oh, and by the way, John was right. I did learn to like it here. Quite a bit, in fact.