I grew up in a small town. So small, that anyone who lived there, there was a 95 percent chance I was related to them. I could never date anyone from the town, they most likely were a cousin of mine.
My town was so small that we didn’t have our own postal code. No post office. No police force. We had an elementary school and a volunteer fire company. Fresh fruit and veggies you either grew yourself or one of the neighbors’ did. Anything you needed for your garden you went to a small shop on the main road. The local mechanic was right next door. We would drop the pick-up truck off and walk home. It wasn’t that far.
The annual fire company carnival was THE event of the year. Everyone would be there. People would cram into the Bingo Hall and celebrate winning $5. It wasn’t about the money, but having fun. The stands and games stayed the same. The rides were typically the same as well over the years. Yet people would come year after year. Most residents would spend a few hours there each night.
My small town has old traditions that bring the community together. For Memorial Day, everyone gathers at the park , where a tribute to the township’s fallen soldiers stands. Our fallen heroes were neighbors, family, and friends. We went to school with them (or their parents). We knew them. They weren’t just another name. Our local boy and girl scouts get involved with the ceremony and so does the town’s two churches. They sing, read aloud thank-you letters, and lead the group in prayer. There’s one common theme at each event throughout the year – we are a community. We stand together when times are tough and support one another.
I have since moved out of my hometown and into a more urban area. If I go to the store, its highly unlikely that I’ll run into someone I know. I can’t walk down the street to go to the garden center (Home Depot doesn’t count – ugh). I won’t get stopped by an elderly woman stating how much I look like my grandmother or that they haven’t seen me since I was “this high”. I don’t get asked about my aunt or what the Murrays are up to next door.
And I miss it. I love when I get to come home and visit. I’m also one of those people who spends nearly every night at the fair, even if I no longer live there. There’s a sense of home once I hit the main road. A calming I would never feel in the city.
Thank God for hometowns.