Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Prairie Life, part 1



Myvillage is a very, very small place. There isn’t a house in town that is more than three blocks from a cornfield.

We don’t bother to lock our doors. My niece once had an expensive sports bag stolen at school and her mother tracked down the culprit and got it back before sundown.

I nearly ruined my social standing for good the first year I was here by bringing a bottle of champagne to the Methodist church New Year’s Eve potluck.

The teller at the bank drive-through keeps a bucket of Milk Bones next to the till for the many customers that drive up with a dog in the back. If we are out for a walk and we cut down the alley behind the bank, the Pup of the Baskervilles pulls me up to the window and puts his front paws up on the shelf until she gives him a biscuit.

My younger sister (who lives in a sizable Detroit suburb) phoned one night, and upon getting an obviously wrong number, apologized and mentioned who she was looking for. The man on the other end of the phone accepted her apology and then informed her “You know, it’s Monday and they’re not home. They’ll be at the school board meeting.”

When a young resident was diagnosed with a deadly disease and she and her mother had to spend several months at a specialty children’s hospital 400 miles away, the town started a sign up sheet and made sure that Dad and the three kids left behind got home-cooked meals.

When people ask where I live, I reply “The old C--- place.” They immediately know the house to which I am referring even though no member of the C---family has lived here since 1987.

When the dog got out, the woman who caught him called the BIL because she knew a) whose dog he was, b) the BIL would be home from his job on the night shift c) the spousal unit was at school and d) I was out of town. The intelligence network here could give the CIA pointers.

The postmistress walks over from the post office every morning with Mr. and Mrs. R---‘s mail because she has Alzheimers and he is disabled and has trouble getting down the steps and across the lawn to the mailbox. Another neighbor with Alzheimer’s gets away from her husband occasionally and is always returned, promptly and safely, by whoever sees her out wandering.

If you grow up here your family’s entire financial, moral, scholastic and marital history for at least four generations back is a matter of public record. The name you bear labels you forever; if you are a H--- you can do no wrong, if you are an S--- you can be smart, honest and hardworking and it won’t make any difference, you’re still a bum.

The winter the spousal unit was in Norway and I was on crutches, the people down the street sent their teenager over to dig me out after each snowstorm.

No one moves to Myvillage; you’re born here or you marry into it.

1 comment:

GDad said...

My parents moved away from Smalltown about the time I was born. Throughout my life, I've been back to visit my grandparents, and I keep meeting people who know more about my extended family than I do.