On the winding back roads and in the often forgotten Main Streets of these tucked away towns, so many of us gained a foundation that developed into more than memories of riding bikes under a street light and fishing in the river. After sharing an evening with the fine folks of Whitesville, I am reminded of why I consider it a great honor to have had the opportunity to be raised in small town USA. As part of my reflections on this trip, I want to share with you five things that only someone from a small town will truly understand.
1. The local hair salon is really town hall
Maybe you heard it at Michelle’s Hair Salon, or during bingo at the community center, or at church on Sunday. You know the places. The little shops, community centers and houses of worship where community potential is discussed, ideas are generated and creative solutions explored. Listen closely. Amidst the enthusiastic debates and unbridled laughter, what you will hear is a town pride thicker than the forest floor vegetation in spring.
2. Everyone knowing your name is a good thing
Have you heard one of Alfred’s famous stories? Did you see Dallas waving a warm hello today? If you live inWhitesville, the answer is likely yes. Stories and personalities dot the landscape of small towns across the country. One thing in all of these communities holds true. Everyone in a small town knows everyone. People helping people isn’t lip service here. It’s the credo of the hardworking people who call small towns home.
3. Community celebrations should be featured on the Hallmark channel
Children noshing on popcorn while enjoying movie night at Coal River Heritage Park. The annual fall festival that brings together neighbors in a shared commemoration of history. Sipping hot coco with friends eagerly anticipating the moment the town Christmas tree will be lit. Can you picture it? Community celebrations like these have a picturesque quality that has provided a backdrop to countless wholesome holiday movies. Some watch these movies to reminisce of a simpler time. In small town America, you can soak in the joys of home at fairs and festivals all year long.
4. That postcard from a mountain vacation is the view out the kitchen window
Whether you are watching a CSX train roll through the mountain landscape or enjoying the sites and sounds of Big Coal River, the serene beauty small towns embraces you. The warm hug of a sun rays, the crisp air of winter and the unsurpassed majesty of the mountains could never fully be captured by even the most skillful photographer.
If you are from a small town, you know what really makes them home is the people. From the warm greeting to the well wishes, the kindness of people is genuine in small towns. Ask anyone about their community, and they are proud to tell their story, enthusiastic about the potential of their home and eager to share why they love their hometown.
What’s your small town story?