Some thoughts from a big city alumni about small towns...

I'm a naturalized Southerner. A retread Rebel, if you will. If you've heard me speak, you've probably figured that out by now.

I grew up a big city Yankee, but I've worked in deep-South small towns for 40-plus years. It's been an adjustment on both sides, and I'm sure I've often tested the fabled Southern hospitality to the max.

I was raised in Cleveland, Ohio. People ask me why I never went back there, or some place similar, to live. The answer is that I never wanted to.

I've got nothing against Cleveland in particular, other than the Indians once had groundskeepers who could run faster than some of the players, and the Browns' defensive line used to look like a museum but moved a little slower.

I came from a high school whose graduating class was over 600 people one year. I know, because I was one of them.

The operative word is people. Lots of people. That's the way it is in the big city.

People are also one of the keys to a small town. People care about you. Their concern may be fueled by genuine interest or flat-out nosiness or any shade of feeling in between. They take an interest in you, and there's few enough of them so you take an interest in them in return.

There are many other characteristics of life in a small town.

A small town:

--May be a place so small that the town square is a triangle.

--May be a place where there's not much to see, but a lot to hear.

--Is a place where middle-aged people, such as the bank president or mayor, are called by their first names as they walk down the street.

--Is a place where everyone knows everyone else's car or truck by sight, and also when and where it goes.

--Is a place where few people can get away with lying about the year they were born. Too many people remember them.

--Is a place where you talk for 15 minutes even if you got the wrong number.

--Is a place where the ratio of good people to bad is about 100 to one. That's nice to remember, especially when you're considering raising a family.

--Is like a large family; ornery distant cousins, renegades and all.

--Is a place where city folks say there's nothing to do, but those who live or work there don't have enough nights in the week to attend all the meetings and social functions.

--Is a place where teenagers say there's nothing to do, and are then surprised to find their big city cousins are saying the same thing.

--Is, in all, a very good place to live.


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