It’s A Small Town Thing

untitled (1 of 42)-2Here’s what I love about this small university town I’ve lived in so long: the townies. Half are university professors and staff, and half work the businesses and services of our tree-lined, brick-paved uptown with its intersecting Main Street and High Street. We pretty much know and trust each other, whether we are one of the tree-hugging progressives (probably the majority of town residents) or the often more conservative bunch from the surrounds. We know each other. We look out for each other.

Here’s a small example: last summer my four-year-old grandson used the rung of a fragile dining chair as a personal launching pad. He was shocked and very upset when it broke. Actually, the wood splintered, which he tearfully assumed was a permanent and serious problem. “We’ll get it fixed,” I reassured him. I knew I could stick the chair in my car and run it to John down at the local Ace. John, as townies know, is a good guy who does stuff like woodworking on the side. It did take him a whole day to get to it, and he did grossly overcharge me ($5.00) but it’s perfect now, and I guess it was fair because he also fixed the joints, polished the chair and told me how to take better care of the wood in addition to suggesting that we get Andrew a suitable trampoline.

Today I went into the post office where Kim and Carey are the smart, funny women who really run the place. They are always telling me the safest and/or quickest and/or cheapest way to send something, and their advice is always sound. Today I had a sympathy card for a friend in my exercise class whose husband died suddenly. Her phone is unlisted, and I don’t know her address. I took it to Carey and said, “Hey, Carey, I’m pretty sure she lives on Contreras. Can you ask the mail carrier if I’m right?”

“Sure,” she said, and took the stamped envelope with my friend’s name on it to the back. A minute later she returned to the counter without the card. “Yep. Done. He’s got it.”

See my point? I don’t mean to romanticize; I admit we have a limited choice of restaurants, and there’s no mall. Also no movie theater. Of course we have problems, too. Every locale does, I imagine. We work ours out. And we have fifteen miles of spectacular nature trails with creeks and ponds, great free concerts in the uptown park every Thursday night all summer, the cultural advantages of the university, and there are trees and flowers everywhere. Schools are good. Our children are safe. But it’s really the people. We know each other.

Is there something positive you can tell us about where you find yourself? Please mention it in Comments. These days we can all stand to hear about anyplace people work together with basic trust and good will.

17 Responses to It’s A Small Town Thing

    • Some days the hope is hard to find if we watch the news for too long instead of taking walks or talking to normal people, though, isn’t it? Thank you, Laura! You’re always a source of hope for me.

  1. And places where one can let her dog run free! And lots of corn fields and gently rolling landscape surrounding a really beautiful campus. It makes it hard to move from this place to one nearer ones children!!

    • I know. And it’s especially difficult when they’re extremely far away and your whole life and friends are here in a place where you, Barb, are so known and so widely beloved. Thanks, always, for commenting.

  2. Enough talk about moving. You’re both staying. Period,
    You are both the “good news” that is missing on TV. We small town folk need a balance and you are it.

    • We wouldn’t have those fifteen miles of trails where we can take our dogs if it weren’t for you, Director of Natural Areas, Jim–you’re one of those people we know and appreciate so much. And can call for help. Thanks for reading, commenting, and for all you give this place.

  3. First off, I love the blog’s new look! The picture of your town is quaint. It reminds me of the little town where my son went to college. I, too, live in a University town, and have found there is a “town and gown” way of thinking. People are polite, but Greeley is a lot larger, having inched up to 100K peeps. The University maintains a polite distance from we “townies.” I have friends amongst the professors, but there is an invisible line between “us and them,” one that I believe exists in most communities. And yet, we’re all just people trying to get through life in the most meaningful way we can. But the larger the community, there is greater opportunity for insularity.

    • Thank you, Emily! Glad you like how the blog looks. (My whole website was redesigned by Nodebud Authors–they’ve been terrific.) 100K people does sound like a lot; I imagine people perhaps form communities within that larger community?

  4. I loved reading this! You always find the right details for explaining yourself! I live less than an hour, I believe, from Oxford — my home is the big bad city of Cincinnati — yet town and metropolis don’t mix much, do they? Country mouse and city mouse . . . can at least be blogging friends.
    I grew up in the small town of Waycross, Georgia, but my husband and I both taught for many years at U. C. in Cincinnati. I’ve written about Waycross and my life there and in Cincinnati in a recent memoir called Me and the Grandmas of Baghdad.
    Whenever my friends talk about wanting to do dog therapy for sick people, I tell them about your fine book on the subject — When the Trail Grows Faint.

    • I admit, Cincinnati often seems pretty far removed, as does Dayton! I’m eager to check out your memoir, Martha! Congratulations on that. I know it’ll be interesting and enjoyable. And thanks for recommending Where The Trail Grows Faint to your friends!

  5. Oxford is such a great community. I loved going there to eat at Bruno’s Pizza. Hueston Woods was always in our summer destination to either hang out for the day or to go camping. Such a beautiful and serene place.

    • I imagine you live in a small town down south and that you love it there. Thanks for reading, Teresa.

  6. A woman in my yoga class this morning told us she would not be at class next week because she is going to visit her son in Ohio for Passover. Having a connection to Lynne and Alan in Ohio, I asked her where. It turns out your small town extends to Santa Rosa, California! Her son lives in Oxford and he teaches at Miami University Ohio. Now that’s quite a small town. Can’t wait to visit.

    • Small town, small world! I’d be interested to hear what she thinks of it–and what her son thinks of his home. Thanks so much for both reading and commenting, Gale.

  7. Dear Lynne, it’s Bridget Sweeney writing to you after reading the beautiful tribute for and about Jan. It was amazing and so sweet to imagine picking up Jan and dancing with her.
    I’m not sure where you are but I’m in Florida and loving it, with out the ice and snow of Connecticut.
    I look forward to reading more that you’ve written and hope to stay in contact.
    Happy Christmas to you and your family.

    • Thank you, Bridget, and I’d love to have you as a reader. Florida sounds pretty delightful at the moment, too; it’s snowing here in Ohio right now! However, regardless of how little we like shoveling it, my Lab thinks it’s the greatest thing we ever invented for him to play in.

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