When I was growing up one of the shows that we watched at our home was Mayberry RFD. We grew up with Aunt Bea, Sheriff Andy, Barney Fife, Opie and the rest of the gang. The show was based in a small town and focuses on small town life and its individual characters.
We live in a small town in central Minnesota, population 400. We own a used car sales and service garage. Each day there is a stream of men that wander through our shop and chat with the mechanics as they go about their work. They are our own cast of characters. One day one of the older retired men asked my husband if he minded them stopping in the shop to talk and my husband’s response to him was “Some men have to go the wise man for wisdom, but I can stay here and they bring the wisdom to me!”
In our local hardware store the men gather each morning around a small round table with their coffee cups and discuss all the local and world problems. Our local librarian calls it “The Think Tank”. Rainy days usually have more participants than usual because the farmers are not out in their fields.
We have older drivers in our town. Everyone knows who they are and to give them more room. Some probably shouldn’t be driving anymore but no one wants to take away their freedom. One man is 90 years old and drives from our town 20 miles each day to see his wife in the nursing home in the next town. They’ve been married for over 50 years. One older man in our town doesn’t drive anymore but he walks around town daily with his walker. You have to watch out for him because without any notice or looking he will walk right in front of your car to cross the road and usually never at a corner where you might expect it.
I used to be the city clerk in town for ten years. Part of my duties were to oversee the election process in town. I had been involved in the election process before I became city clerk when my dad was in the Mn House of Representative for two years and the MN Senate for twelve years. I had been a poll observer as we collected the voting tallies and brought them back to the campaign headquarters. I was really surprised at the voter turnout in our small town. It was nearly 90% of the registered voters. The people would line up outside the polling place and wait for it to open. It was a regular social event in town. Some planned to vote first thing in the morning, some voted before lunch or after, others voted on their way home from work or came to vote after supper but everyone voted.
Our small town has many churches. On Main Street there are three churches, one church is one block off Main Street, one a mile out-of-town and one about 3 miles out-of-town. Every one knows who belongs at which church and if you should happen to appear at a church different that the one you attend regularly you will be the talk of the town until the next Sunday and everyone sees if it was just for one Sunday or you are making a change for good.
We have our local parades, community theatre, and community choir. The town’s people always line the streets or auditorium chairs to cheer on our local talents.