Growing Up in Small Town, USA

I was born in Lapeer, MI to Mike and Patti Schenkel. I lived in the same house until I was 21 in Metamora, Michigan. The house was 2 bedrooms, one bathroom, beautiful yard with trees and and a rock wall. When I was young, my Dad built a pole barn one summer in the backyard. Mom always had flowers that we tried in so many ways to have the rabbits not eat. We would lay in the sun, play in the sprinkler, ride bikes and draw chalk murals on the entire paved driveway at my parents pig roasts.

My Mom is a unique, strong willed, tall, long-haired beauty. She grew up in Detroit and moved to Oxford with Mimi and Papa when she was in school. Mom worked in catering at the Huntsman for many years and spent most of her time being a wonderful, present Mom. She always encouraged creativity, crafts, cooking, baking and being a unique individual. We put glitter and sequins on everything if we could! Dance parties in the kitchen and singing our hearts out to “Now that’s what I call music-Christmas #1′ was always a fabulous tradition.
My Dad is a masculine, strong, hardworking, caring and understanding man. He grew up in Dryden all of his life. Dad worked as a heavy equipment operator for most of his career. That is where I learned to love the smell of a good mechanic garage, wood stove and fresh asphalt. Dad was the one who taught me how to drive, fish, hunt and take care of my car properly. Before I could get my license, I had to change all four tires and change my oil and fluids. I obviously wasn’t too happy to actually do this, but these are all tasks that I now appreciate and cherish learning them with my Dad. We went to NASCAR races together, cheering on Dale Earnhardt, Jr every time, went fishing for blue gill in the winter and summer, and hunted whitetails at the condo.

I had a tight knit group of girlfriends during school. We had surprise birthday parties for each other in middle school, were a sarcastic bunch, loved sleepovers with junk food and spending time together especially after school and in the summer. Lisa Stoutenburg, Kristen Williamson, Ashley Roth, and Ashley Carbone were my main girls. Ashley Carbone lived about a mile away from me. We walked to each others house when we couldn’t drive and we drive around on the back roads together when we could.

I went to Imlay City Schools all of my childhood. My favorite classes were always art and social studies. In elementary school, it smelled like pickles during recess from the Vlasic plant in town. I played basketball every year until senior year when I called it quits. I was the forward/center and honestly not very good. haha! I can laugh about it now but it was frustrating as a kid to always be the backup no matter how much I practiced. It was a great way to keep me in shape though. That was a big plus!

Growing up, I was blessed to be an only child with many close cousins. My mom was one of 9 kids so I was extremely close with my cousins Terha, Nicole and Stephanie. We would always spend the night at each others house and at Mimi and Papa’s house. No matter what happened in our lives, we would always remain so close. I still call Terha my sister. Nicole was and still is obsessed with animals. Stephanie was emotional like myself and loved to be apart of the group. We got a long great for this reason and also because the older girls Terha and Nicole would gang up on us for being the youngest. We all are a year apart over 4 years.

Growing up in a small town is something that I’ll always cherish. I loved being so close to my friends and family, being outside, learning valuable life lessons and actually knowing your neighbor.

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