Thursday, December 10, 2009

Small Town America: Beyond the Tom Sawyer Clones

A little over three months ago, I launched this blog with a sort of backgrounder post. A little review shouldn't hurt.

Of course, I've been wrong before.

Back in 1997, I decided that someone should write about small town America. People had done this before, but the small towns described online fell into two basic types.

Small Town America: Stereotypes

There were the morasses of hypocrisy and intolerance (think "Harper Valley PTA). The incredibly narrow-minded people in this "small town America" seemed intent on making the life of the writer just simply awful.

The people who wrote that sort of thing generally described themselves as brilliant, talented, and terribly, terribly misunderstood. I suspect their neighbors understood them all too well, but that's a whole different topic.

Another sort of person, generally someone who was successful in business or an established professional, wrote about an entirely different "small town America."

These places were beautiful, serene havens of bliss populated by jolly shopkeepers, unhurried natives, and Tom Sawyer clones - generally wearing bib overalls and a straw hat. One actually had a photo of a boy who looked like that. (Sorry - it was 12 years ago, and I've no clue where to look for it.)

Places I've Known

I've never lived in a place that was like either one of those "small town Americas."

For that matter, I've never lived in a city where crime ran rampant and youthful ideals were shattered, or where the best and brightest gathered to discuss truth and beauty.

After living in quite a few places, from Dunseith, North Dakota, to San Francisco, I've decided that people aren't all that radically different, no matter where you are. And, I'm very glad to be living here in Sauk Centre. There may be better places to live and raise a family: but I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

The Real Small Town America

Sauk Centre certainly isn't some dreamy backwater, cut off from the cares and worries of the world - and still living somewhere between 1890 and 1910. My family developed a good relationship with another family, while their husband and father was serving in Iraq. One of my brothers-in-law is over there, now.

No, we're not cut off from the "real world."

And, although parts of downtown Sauk Centre have been restored to the way it looked about a century back (an improvement, I think, over the mid-20th-century add-ons), we're definitely living in the "now."

Small town America: It's a great place, but we're living in the 21st century. December 7, 2009.

This blog, and the Sauk Centre Journal, are part of my effort to let people who don't have first-hand experience with the real 'small town America' know what it's like.

Related posts:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for leaving a comment!