If you grew up in a small town and I left any important qualifiers out, please comment below!
When I was in high school, one of our homework assignments was to write about the attractions of our home town. Well, I went to the teacher and politely asked, “Mr. Main, the assignment is to write on the attractions of our hometown?” And he politely replied, “Yes.” So, being a high school student and sarcastic, I questioned, “But, Mr. Main, I live in Latham.” He just laughed and said that there had to be something there. Well, truth be told, there really wasn’t. But, again, remember I was sarcastic, so I did the assignment.
The lake. This oversized mud hole is enclosed in fencing and is located on the edge of town. No room for a fishing boat let alone a ski boat. People don’t eat the fish that they catch there, they are afraid of what they have been eating in the mud hole.
The gas station. We lived 15 miles from town and our gas station was not on the highway, it was inside of the town. It sold gas by the 1/2 gallon at a price that the stations in town were selling for a whole gallon. You guessed it, the cars were lined up for miles to buy gas at that price. It never had any gas sales except to those unfortunate souls that were on “E” and couldn’t possibly make it another 6 miles to another gas station that sold it by the full gallon.
The watertower. This was looking pretty shabby, but one year they gave it a fresh coat of paint. It was coincidentally the same color as the neighboring town’s water town that they had just painted. So nice of them to give us hand me down paint!
Festival of lights. Yes every year at Christmas time, the grain elevator in town would put on a fantastic display of lights – a huge star. Probably had 50 light bulbs in it!
The grain elevator. Let me tell you what, this town was full of activity at harvest time. Farmers lined up all day to sell to the grain elevator. It was the most traffic the streets saw all year. Also was very entertaining to act goofy while all the farmers had no other choice but to sit and watch. ha ha.
The annual ice cream social. This event was huge when I was little. Huge raffle prizes, like TVs, carnival rides, tractor pulls for kids, softball games, it was an all day affair. It has since dwindled in size and attendance, but one thing has not changed, if you live out of town, your chances to win the raffle prize are quadrupled over someone who is a home townie. It never failed. It was a lot of fun when it was a huge event. I remember my cousins would come stay that weekend from a few hours away and we would partake in the activities of the day. That small town event is what makes a tight community.
The post office. Where all the mail comes in from every where. This is also the place where all the good gossip takes place. Want to know who is cheating? Who is getting married? Who is moving in town? Just go to the post office! If you live in a small town, I can pretty much assure you that at least once a week, you hear someone say, “I was at the Post Office the other day and I heard….”
The rock pile. Just as the name implies, it was a HUGE pile of rocks. We had two parks (odd for a town of 250 people, but we did!) but if you gave any kid in town a choice of places to go, they would pick the rock pile. You could “snow ski” down the side of it and climb back up.
Pop Machine. Odd I know, but you just have to know that we went many years without one. It was an exciting day when they put that machine in. It was in a good location, the center of down town. Down town, lol. It did not have Pepsi or Coke, it was stocked with RC cola products. I don’t even think you can buy RC anymore? But, it was pop, it was cold, we bought it and drank it.
And when I wrote the conclusion to my story, I wrote something like this: “Well, I could sit here and write all day about all the attractions of my town, but a cat just got ran over in the road and I have to run out there before the crowd does.” It’s sad, but it is true, it was just about all the excitement that town could take.
But, looking back, it was a close knit community where everyone knew everyone. We didn’t have a house alarm, no need to. My neighbor’s house had the perfect view of the driveway. She was at home every day and she could tell you who stopped by, what they were driving and if they chatted with her a bit. She babysat me many times after school until my mom got home. She always had a bottle of Coca-cola – the glass kind not the 20 oz plastic bottles they have today. We played bingo, dominoes, puzzles, and when it was nice outside, croquet. She was our neighbor the entire time I lived in that house. And for all the times she took care of us, my parents repaid the favor. They checked on her when she was there by herself as she got older, to make sure she was ok. We visited her several times in the nursing home. It was a sad day when she passed away. She was more like family to us than just a neighbor.
Overall, living in a small town really made you use your imagination. We made mud pies, sand cookies, and did goofy things when cars would drive by, like hold up signs that said they were going the wrong way.
When I was a kid, you could ride around town on your bicycle and feel safe about it. There were no cell phones back then. It seems like people paid attention more, they cared more, they socialized with each other more. I don’t know, maybe it is because we didn’t have the technology then that we do now. Now, you can play a DVD movie anytime you want, watch one of 500 channels or play one of many video games. You can even get on your computer and write a blog! We had 3 channels, you missed your show, you just missed it. No recording available. When I got my license and I left home, I was unreachable! My parents had no clue where I was unless I called to tell them. We had paper books that we journaled in, or “blogged”. It was private and usually held sentences like, “I was bored today, Mary couldn’t play.” It seems like the stone ages, but it really was only 30 years ago! How times have changed! We have hand held computers in our hands that also make phone calls. And this same technology that keeps us up to date on the latest news and our friends. However, this technology can also keep us from living life with real, live people. And make us miss things that happen to those beings right in front of our faces, because our faces are buried in the technology.
I don’t live in a small town any longer. And even if I did, I don’t think that it would really be apparent. People today are not as sociable in real life as they once were. Technology has been great at helping us to become more knowledgeable and more productive, but in reality, I think it is stripping away our relationships with other people. Do you live in a small town today? What do you think, am I close to my assessment?