These days, living and growing up in a small town gets no props.. So many times, you see in movies or read in books about the proverbial yearning to leave that small town you grew up in to go out and discover the world. “I gotta get out of this place before I lose my mind,” you say. This is of course your right of passage but hey, let us give a little credit to the small towns. Yes, everybody does know your name and probably more about your personal business than you’d want them to. And if you’re a star athlete for the local high school, you might be made a hero and have your 15 minutes of fame and then 20 years of talking about your glory days. In a small town, not only does everyone really attend the sporting events, they will also travel far and wide in inclement weather to attend the away games. Many of those same people are the ones who’ve baked what is being sold in the concession stands for whatever fundraiser is prominent that week. In a small town be it football, basketball, baseball or wrestling, sports is BIG, especially when the team is WINNING.
But let’s take a deeper look: I believe that by and large, the life blood of small towns begins with and is “maintained and sustained” by loving mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts and a variety of other women who often go unnamed, unrecognized, unappreciated and unseen. Much of this is on purpose, as women don’t usually promote, advertise, or need validation for those fundamental things they do that seem automatic to their roles and their hearts. That being said, there are just as many male roles in a small town that should get some credit. A group of execs from a major local business who organize and foot the bill for the annual community BBQ in the park to bring everyone together; the firefighter who speaks about safety to his son’s 3rd grade classroom the day after he saved a toddler from a house fire; the teacher who instills a seed of worthiness in someone with a learning disability; the judge who lets you off the hook for the $125 ticket when you’re 16 but lets you do community service (oh, that was me); the football coach who is revered regardless of his teams’ record because he believes his most important job is as a mentor to fatherless young boys.
In a small town, there will be those who show up for the funeral of “one of the least” who has no family because it’s the right thing to do. In a small town, there will be someone to rake leaves or shovel snow for the elderly neighbor. In a small town everyone knows the politics and current events, the controversies and conspiracies, where the local cops park to watch the speeders and what the teenagers are doing after midnight on weekends (did you kids think we didn’t know?) The school bus driver will make a loop and come back to get you when it’s snowing and the postman will deliver a letter when your sister put the wrong address, because he truly does know where you live. In a small town, they know who has the elk tags, where the fish are being caught, who needs their truck pulled out of a ditch, who is being born and who is leaving this world…
Over the years, you will come home—for the holidays, weddings, reunions and various other events and each time you appreciate it more. Because no matter how long you’ve been gone, how far away you’ve traveled or how much you think you have “changed”….. a small town will always welcome you back home with open arms….
~ Mick E. ~