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I’ve said in previous blogs that I’m a sucker for small towns. And sometimes I forget just how much these farm-and-field, off-Interstate stops comfort me, but fresh off a trip to my small hometown of Glen St. Mary (North Florida), it’s back in my head. Now before you say it, I get it… pine-dotted North Florida hardly conjures the charmed images of storied fishing villages of rural Maine, mountain towns of North Carolina, or the All-American towns of the Midwest. But we’ve got the ingredients just the same: dirt roads, Main Street, weathered farmhouses (photo above is the house I was born in, circa 1970s--I'd say it looked a little shinier when I lived there, but...), and friendly, familiar faces.
For me, there’s just something about getting out of town. And by town, I mean city. Maybe it’s because no matter where I go, I love to watch the way people live. What home looks like, how certain neighborhoods feel and who lives in them, what weekends sound like. And my hometown may be small, but there’s LOTS to notice. Like how many people spend evenings in a chair on the porch. Or how everyone tends to their own yards out there. Or how houses don’t have to match, and most don’t.
As for how I live when I’m out there? I push kids on tree swings, sleep with the windows open, walk 10 minutes to the end of the drive to get the paper (as opposed to tripping over it outside my door downtown), walk the railroad tracks up to the store, and oversee the removal of uninvited guests from Easter egg hunting grounds (rogue black snake).
Today, I was fishing for photos of Glen St. Mary online and came across a gold mine. I found a site full of photos of our 1981 centennial (I was seven years old). I won't post it, but you could easily find it if it interests you. The point is, this one site spoke volumes about the town I grew up in. How people live, how neighborhoods feel, what weekends sound like. I mean, the fact that the ENTIRE TOWN dressed up in late 1800s attire (the costumes no doubt made on home sewing machines--I remember Mom making ours) to commemorate the town's birthday speaks volumes about where I grew up. A parade, a dance, a party—all to celebrate a town no bigger than a thousand or so (if that). It's a good way to live—with and without the costumes.