Small Town Reality

Small Town

A recent humor post about small towns elicited some comments, questions, and not-necessarily-good memories. For those with curiosity, or defective nostalgia, here’s the real low, down.

Baskin-Robbins only has three ice cream flavors.

Corporate America has still not reached my little Canadian town. There used to be a couple of independent, Mom-and-Pop convenience stores that hand-dipped ice cream, before pre-packaged treats became available. Now they subsist by selling lottery tickets to folks dreaming about having enough money to get out.

You had to step out of the village limits in order to change your mind.

That’s a trick question. Nobody in my town changes their mind.

The nickname for the city jail is amoeba because it only has one cell.

Hah! Our town jail has two cells. One for drunken white men, and another for drunken Indians from the adjoining reservation.

McDonalds only has one Golden Arch and the nearest one is 15 miles away.

The nearest one is in the next town, 5 miles closer to the nuclear reactor, and the only source of employment left in the area.

Instead of a 7-11 they have a 3.5 – 5.5.

See ‘no corporate America’ above. 3.5 X 5.5 refers to metres – 20 by 30 feet sized convenience stores.

The New Year’s baby was born in April.

With all the screwing that’s going on, some of it even by people who are married – to each other – you’d think this would happen earlier in the year. All praise free birth-control information on the internet.

The “Welcome To” and “Thanks for Visiting “signs are front and back of the same sign.

The town has a lot of long-term summer residents – rich city folks who own expensive cottages. Neither they, nor the residents, really want transient, stay-at-a-tourist-camp visitors. There is no ‘Welcome’, or ‘Thanks’ sign. It was left to the Department of Highways to identify where drivers were with a generic sign.

You have to go to the next town to find 2nd Street….

At least there’s nothing as bland as 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Street in my home-town. We have a British-type, High Street, which I was born on, as well as street names like Morpeth, Anglesia, Grosvenor, Grenville, Landsdowne, Breadlebane, and Augusta.

A “Night on the Town” only takes about ten minutes.

There are bars in two hotels on High Street, a block apart. White folks drink at one. Indians drink at the other. If you drink too long at either, your ten-minute ‘Night on the Town’ could stretch to 72 hours in the appropriate comfortably-appointed jail cell.

The Subway restaurant that serves foot-long sandwiches cannot fit within the village limits.

See ‘no corporate America’ again. There is a French-fries/hamburger/ hot-dog take-out building on the highway, behind the bank. It limps through the winter months, and produces retirement income during the summer.

You do not bother using turn signals because everyone already knows where you are going.

Laid out by British surveyors, the town has good sight-lines, and broad streets. It is one of two towns in Canada with a 100 foot-wide main street – most have 66. If you do manage to cut off a local resident, they feel free to tell you where to go.

Big social events are scheduled around when the high school gym floor is being varnished.

The local Legion is big enough to handle most ‘big’ social events. The local high school was closed in 1955, because of lack of students. The couple of dozen per year are bused five miles to the 350 student ‘District’ high school.

You call a wrong number and the person who answers can give you the correct number for the person you are trying to call..

While this was once true, the internet has become a boon, since the big Don’t-Give-A-Damn epidemic hit town.

There is no point in high-school reunions because everyone knows what everyone else is doing anyway.

This is true of those too dumb to get out. The ones who leave, just tend to disappear.
“Do you remember Bob?”
“Bob who?”
“We went to school with him.”
“You mean Rob?”
“Maybe….”
“I got no idea where he went.”

School gets canceled for Provincial sporting events.

No-one in my town was good enough at any sport to qualify for Provincial meets. Senior elementary classes are sometimes bused to District events.

It was cool to date someone from a different high-school.

It had to be from the same ‘District’ high school, but at least you could date someone from a different town – or a farm girl, who could show you alternate social uses for the hay-mow in the barn.

The golf course had only three holes.

There’s a quite-nice golf course, 2 miles out of town, where the old highway wisely bypassed this social morass, a century ago. More recently, a developer included a tournament-worthy course as a perk with his new housing subdivision, on the other side of town, right next to the Indian reservation, whose residents are wisely not allowed to be members. They are both 18-hole courses. Amusingly, just 2 miles away from my current, big-city house, is a course that the city has grown out and surrounded. It is a par-3 course.

Anyone you are looking for can be found at either the Dairy Queen or Wal-Mart, over in ‘The Big City’.

I remember when I thought that it was the cultural center of the Universe, with all of 10,000 residents.

Directions are given using the one and only stop light as a reference – after they finally installed one.

Even after they redirected the highway through the town, instead of past it, the intersection with the main street was a 4-way stop until the Department of Highways insisted on a traffic light in 1955. It’s still the only one.

Weekend excitement involves a trip to the grocery store.

1955 was a year of excitement. A Canadian-based supermarket came to town to challenge 3 little independent grocery stores. While considerable excitement can be had with bananas and cucumbers, the entire town was agog when they imported coconuts.

Your teachers remember when they taught your parents.

My Dad was a Johnny-come-lately, carpet-bagger, non-native. My Mom left in her early teens during the dirty-Thirties, and returned as an adult. None of the teachers had been inoculated, or developed a resistance to me.

The best burgers in town are at the four-lane bowling alley.

Our bowling alley had the best burgers and 8 lanes, but was an unheated summer-only, beach bowling alley, only open from the end of May, till Labor Day. The next town down had a year-round, 4-lane alley, but no lunch bar. The best burgers were next door at the owner’s A-frame, chalet diner.

Tell us about your tiny home-town…. or the unfortunate section of big city that you grew up in.

Young Love Gone Wrong

Jailbird

For 20 years, they were deliriously happy…. Then they met.
Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.     😳

Once upon a time, I lost a girlfriend. It wasn’t a century ago, but it was well back in the last century.

When I graduated high school, I moved 100 miles away to take my first job. It wasn’t long before it was apparent – at least to me – that the long-distance romance wasn’t going to work. Jeff Foxworthy speaks of, “If she hasn’t yet saddled up and ridden a new horse, she’s at least pulled one from the barn, and put a bridle on him.” My friends never mentioned that to me. I broke it off – by letter – just before Christmas. She wasn’t lonely for long.

I had just turned 19. Her new beau was almost 21. He had a job as a mechanic. He made more money than I did. He had a car. She traded up – or did she??! The new fella was the kind described as ‘known to police.’ She had a 16-year-old younger brother. By Valentine’s Day, he had sold the kid a switchblade knife – probably a $3/$4 piece of junk, that he charged $5 for.

The home was ruled by a nasty, judgmental mother, only one reason I decided to call it quits. All 6 of the children were a bit sharp – or brittle – especially this youngest, with something to prove. He couldn’t attract a girlfriend, but wanted to go to the high school’s big Easter Dance.

Since he didn’t have a partner, he asked the new boyfriend if he could provide a little liquid courage. Back then, you had to be 21 to purchase alcohol, but he knew a fellow, and provided a Mickey (13 Oz.) of lemon gin. The kid spiked his own punch at the party, and was soon roaring drunk – yelling and swearing, and pawing girls.

The science teacher, the male chaperone, approached him, and told him that he must leave. This was his first drinking experience. He didn’t know how to act. He loudly insisted that he would not leave. The teacher reached to take his arm or shoulder, to escort him out…. and he pulled the switchblade!

If he had just left, everything would have quietly disappeared. Now they had to call the cops! He wasn’t arrested, but they confiscated the knife, and called his parents to pick him up. The policeman asked him where he’d got the knife, and the liquor. Too immature to keep his mouth shut, he quickly named the new boyfriend.

The next day, they pulled him over. With probable cause, they searched the car, found an unopened case of beer in the trunk, and charged him with underage possession.

Our town was a ‘County Town,’ not the county capital. That was 30 miles away. We got a circuit judge, and every Wednesday was court day. Nicknamed the Hangin’ Judge, he had seen the evils of Demon Rum, and had a hatred for alcohol. This was Carrie Nation’s husband.

I don’t know whether he came to hate booze before, or because, he became a judge. The latter was quite possible, with all the drunken tourists, and drunken Indians from the nearby reservation.

The boyfriend pled guilty, and the misdemeanor penalty was a fine, and a criminal record. The judge wanted to get higher up this bootlegging ladder, and demanded to know where he had got the beer. “I found it in a ditch.” “Well, I hope you found a month down there with it, ‘cause you’re going to do 30 days in the county slammer.”

He’d kept quiet about his supplier, but, even sober, he just couldn’t keep his mouth shut. “Hell, I can do 30 days, standin’ on my head.” “That’s contempt of court. Here’s another 30 days, to get you back on your feet.” Suddenly that Archon boy was looking real good – but I was long gone.

Small Town Boy

Small Town

I was born and raised in a small town.
How small, you say? I’m glad you asked.

Baskin-Robbins only has three ice cream flavors.

You had to step out of the village limits in order to change your mind.

The nickname for the city jail is amoeba because it only has one cell.

McDonalds only has one Golden Arch and the nearest one is 15 miles away.

Instead of a 7-11 they have a 3.5 – 5.5.

The New Year’s baby was born in April.

The “Welcome To” and “Thanks for Visiting “signs are front and back of the same sign.

You have to go to the next town to find 2nd Street….

A “Night on the Town” only takes about ten minutes.

The Subway restaurant that serves foot-long sandwiches cannot fit within the village limits.

You do not bother using turn signals because everyone already knows where you are going.

Big social events are scheduled around when the high school gym floor is being varnished.

You call a wrong number and the person who answers can give you the correct number for the person you are trying to call..

There is no point in high-school reunions because everyone knows what everyone else is doing anyway.

School gets canceled for Provincial sporting events.

It was cool to date someone from a different high-school.

The golf course had only three holes.

Anyone you are looking for can be found at either the Dairy Queen or Wal-Mart, over in ‘The Big City’.

Directions are given using the one and only stop light as a reference – after they finally installed one.

Weekend excitement involves a trip to the grocery store.

Your teachers remember when they taught your parents.

The best burgers in town are at the four-lane bowling alley. 

You Get The Picture

004

While fairly small, Batavia, NY, which we recently visited, has been historically important. It is a relatively old city.  While Kitchener has a pioneer tower at the outskirts, celebrating the arrival of the first settlers in 1820, the oldest cornerstone I saw in Batavia was 1804, with many others in the 1860s, ‘70s, and ‘80s.

SDC10907

Batavia is celebrating 100 years of being a city.  They have a new(ish) no-nonsense, get-the-job-done City Hall, so much nicer looking than Kitchener’s pretentious, architectural Frankenstein’s monster.

City Hall

Towers, and roof-top cupolas seemed common in Batavia.

SDC10905 Used to be a Farmers’ Insurance company, now a Charity’s headquarters

SDC10906 The back of the county courthouse, from about 1900.

SDC10894 Front/side view of cupola.  I believe the building’s style is ‘Federalist’, solid, trustworthy, about as exciting as mashed potatoes.  This is the first indication of the move forward from the uselessly ornate Victorian Era architecture.

SDC10896 1890 Police station.  The turrets and towers continue down the side street, until it merges with a utilitarian 1980s jail.

SDC10903 When the Cold War warmed up in the mid-’60s, the basement was designated a fallout shelter.

SDC10899 What was once a County Court judge’s magnificent home, half a block from the cop-shop, is now carved up into tiny apartments.  The shingles on the Russian Orthodox Church-style end tower need some uniform replacement.

SDC10900 The side shot shows a front chimney which disappears after it becomes a second-storey fireplace.

SDC10895 A side-street view of the original municipal Fire Department building.  The section on the left c/w alarm bell on the roof, was the Chief’s apartment/home.  Now it houses a crafts and memorabilia store.

SDC10904 The main-street angle shows the round tower on the left, which the firemen climbed to get to the dormitory, with a brass strippers’ fire pole down the center for fast response.  The square tower on the right end was for hanging hoses to dry so they didn’t rot.

SDC10901 There’s a lovely little downtown park, just up from the old firehall, along the edge of Tonawanda Creek, which ambles through town.  Perhaps they celebrate Disney princesses there, or maybe that’s where gay weddings are held.  The park is named Peace Park.  There are memorials to several pioneers and politicians, as well as veterans.  There was a display of about 20 little American flags around the Veterans’ stone.  The son commented that approximately 1 of every 10 houses also flew a flag.

SDC10898 A little wooden footbridge across the creek into a residential neighborhood.  A close look at the middle right shows a Federal Government authorized and registered sewage outflow.  Imagine how bad it might be if the Government didn’t have it under control.

SDC10897 An upstream view, back toward the park.

SDC10902 The old Sherriff’s office, just downstream from the park.  Ironically, it’s now used as a water-quality monitoring station.

SDC10893 A Catholic Church – every city’s got one (or more).  With the afternoon sun directly behind, the best shot was from the shadow of the tower, in the left-turn lane in the middle of an almost-deserted Sunday street.  The son didn’t trust me to warn him of impending traffic, instead, taking a higher-angle shot from the safety of the sidewalk.

SDC10912 From a candy store at the other end of the main street, a present for the warden wife, as thanks for allowing us an unescorted jail day-pass.  With a flurry of intellect and originality, Batavia calls their main street, Main Street.  My little British-styled home town called ours, High Street.

Quit Your Witchin We didn’t know that while we were gone, one of the daughter’s cats had broken her favorite glass, but we used some of grandson WillowThorn’s kind donation, to purchase her another.  The Wiccan Witch of the West loves it.

These were the photo chronicles of a lovely, sunny, warm, Sunday stroll through an historically interesting little village which grew up into a productive city, without losing too much of its heritage.  Next week I tell the tale of our welcome(?) return to Bureaucratopia Canada.

Cripes!

My wife’s from the Mid-west. Very nice people
there.  Very wholesome.

They use words like ‘Cripes!’  ‘For Cripe’s sake!
Who would that be, Jesus Cripes?  The son of
‘Gosh?’ of the church of ‘Holy Moly’!

I’m not making fun of it. You think I wanna burn
in ‘Heck’?

***

Old age isn’t bad – when you consider the alternative.

***

The Lone Ranger and Tonto are riding along when
the Lone Ranger puts up his hand and says,
“Whoa.” He then climbs down from his horse
Silver, walks behind the horse, lifts his tail
and kisses the horse on his asshole. He then
remounts and they ride on.

A little while later, the Lone Ranger again
raises his hand and says, “Whoa.” He dismounts,
lifts the tail and kisses Silver on the ass
again, then remounts.

Tonto, not sure as to what is going on asks,
“Hmph! Kemo Sabe why you get off Silver and kiss
him on asshole?” The Lone Ranger replies,
“Chapped lips.” Tonto then says, “Ugh. That good
for chapped lips?” The Lone ranger replies, “No,
but it keeps you from licking them.”

***

HERE ARE A FEW IDEAS TO HELP YOU
ALLEVIATE THE STRESS OF TODAY’S
FRANTIC MOMENTS

1:  Use your MasterCard to pay off your Visa.
2:  Pop some popcorn without putting the lid on.
3:  Forget Weight-Watchers, and send yourself a Candygram
4:  Make a list of things to do, that you’ve already done.
5:  Get revenge for tax woes by filling out your forms in Roman numerals.
6:  Tattoo “Out to lunch” on your forehead.
7:  Leaf through a National Geographic, and draw underwear on all the natives.
8:  Go shopping!  Buy everything!  Sweat in it!  Return it the next day.
9:  Drive to work in reverse.
10:  Read the dictionary upside-down and look for secret messages.
11:  Bill your doctor for the time spent in his waiting room.
12:  Write a short story using alphabet soup.
13:  Stare at people through the tines of a fork and pretend they’re in jail.
14:  Make up a language and ask for directions.

I know some of you may have already used one or more of these sanity-saving stress reducers.  Feel free to try the rest, before you wind up like this guy.

thank you for holding

#455

Flash Fiction #45

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© Jennifer Pendergast

Title Yard Sale – Read the following short story, and then pick the title you feel best applies.  No extra charge.

IRONY
DICHOTOMY
REDNECKS IN TRAINING
COGNITIVE DISSONANCE
IMAGINE BUM-PING INTO YOU

****

SAME SEX MARRIAGE??!  Over my dead body – better still, over theirs.

These filthy fags parading around – “I have a job.  I pay taxes. I want the same civil rights as everybody else.”  They’re worse than the niggers and Jews.  Niggers are just weak-minded jungle bunnies.  They don’t know no better.  The Jews may be Christ-killing heathens – but these perverts are sinners.

Civil rights??  I say cut their junk off and throw them all in jail.

Here we are at the church.  Take a look at the sign Bobby.  What’s Reverend Larkin’s sermon theme today?  “Love One Another.”  Awww – that’s nice.

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story