Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

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What’s a Small Town World?

My friend, Marilyn Pappano, made a comment once about how I love living in and writing about small towns. At first I thought, that makes me sound very limited as a writer. But she was right.

I love small towns. Why? Because they’re usually filled with people who care for each other. Got a problem? In a small town, one neighbor helps the other. A loved one dies and your neighbor will be at your door with a casserole. Get sick and your neighbor will be there, mowing your lawn. Need to cry? A friend will be their with a dry shoulder. 

What’s not to love?

As I cogitated on it (that is a real word, right?) I realized that the entire world is made up of small towns. No matter where you live–New York City, LA, Jackson, Tennessee or Punkin Center, Oklahoma, your part of the world, which is filled with your friends, acquaintances and loved ones, is your small town. 

Here’s the deal. Everyone knows only so many people. You can’t be friends with everyone in your town or city, but the ones you are close to make up your small town. Your small town might be your workplace or your church. It can even be your apartment building

Tenement buildings in the Lower East Side of M...

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia


or your extended family. Maybe it’s the neighbors who live on your end of the street.

Whoever it is, it’s the people who know and like you. Who wave at your when you go by and worry about you if there’s a crowd of cars at your house on a day that’s not a holiday. 

Something else I’ve noticed (during my limited travels around this world) is that you’ll find small town folks just about anywhere you go. When I was twenty-one years old and went to England, I found several small towners.

They were from England, not Small Town, Oklahoma, but they recognized in me a girl who’d never been very far from home. (Two years at a private college


 in Joplin where the week night curfew was 7:00 pm and weekends we had to be in by 11:00 ensured I wasn’t very worldly.)

In England a woman counciled me about how to carry my purse,

and a bobby volunteered to get me back where I belonged on the underground.

In Paris a taxi driver drove my friends and me back to our hotel one night

because he was afraid we could be hurt walking at that time of night, and he didn’t charge us a dime.  No matter what language they speak, those were real home town folks!

And if you ask my friends, I rarely go out to eat that I don’t meet a home towner somewhere along the way. Sometimes it’s one I already know, and sometimes it’s a brand new denizen.

So how about you? Do you believe in my Small Town World or is your faith in the world of slick cities? Terminally Curious wants to know. 🙂