Forest City Courier, Jan. 16, 1941
When one is old enough and wise enough to look backward over the path of his or her days, one begins to discern the truth, that to all the richest gifts of life, the home has made its valuable, and you might say, indispensable contribution. Those of us who have been brought up in a small town, have been blessed with an additional privilege, though some of our city acquaintances might not see it that way, feeling that theirs is the privilege, and that we have been deprived of something. Maybe we have. You wouldn’t say that life in a small town has its compensations. It offers more than just compensation. There is a gain, an advantage, a profit, such as comes with the daily association of people you have known from childhood, people who take an interest in you and your work, your problems, your success or your failure. There are many things of human interest about life in a small town that are a vital part of the lives of its inhabitants. Running in at the back door of your neighbor’s house to borrow a cup of sugar, two or three eggs, or maybe something as small as a teaspoonful of vanilla flavoring, may advertise the fact that you were rather forgetful when you made your last trip to the grocery store, but it is a life-saver sometimes. You would be in a sad fix, if you found yourself short of these things, just when you were ready to stir up a cake. If you lived in a city and had no neighbor to borrow from, other than the people who live in the imposing mansion across the way, and who look rather snooty when they condescend to look your way at all. Anyway, you wouldn’t know which was the back door, if you ever got up enough nerve to go over there.
Think how hard it would be to raise a family of children in a big city. How would they ever learn to climb trees? Would they ever have the fun of playing with neighborhood children after school? What fun to saunter and play along the tree-shaded street of a small town on their way to and from school, instead of being jostled in a crowd of hurrying people, or ride city buses wedged in between grownups. I doubt if city children have daily chores as the children in our town do, such as bringing in wood and coal, raking leaves, or cleaning out the wood house or garage on Saturdays. If they don’t they are missing a lot. But worst of all, maybe they don’t get to go bare-footed in the summer time. If so, they will never know the scrumptious feel of sand between tender toes along about the first of May, or the struggle to keep awake while they half-heartedly wash their feet at the end of a happy day’s play. They will never know the misery of a stumped toe, or the joy of having it get well again, after being stumped and restumped for days and days.
Is there anything in the noise and roar of a city that can compare with the peace that settles down over a small community at twilight when the day’s work is done, the stores closed, supper over, families gathered around firesides, neighbors come in to visit, and go home at a reasonable hour, clocks are wound, cats are put out, and everyone settles down to quiet, sound and peaceful sleep? They say that everybody in a small town knows everybody else’s business. Maybe so, every city, hamlet and small town has its busy bodies. But at least everyone is working most of the time for the other fellow’s good, and for the good of the town which they want to keep good. There is little competition, and in the average small town there is a majority who stand, ready to help their fellow man.
You never hear of a person being found dead from starvation; not among people who share their gardens with the town in general. If there are no needy families to be looked after, the amateur gardeners send their prize stuff about over town to their friends, just to show what big tomatoes, potatoes and beans they can raise. When sickness or sorrow comes to a home, the news spreads at once and kind friends are ready are willing to help, go in and do what they can. This does not imply that people in cities are heartless and indifferent to those in need of help and sympathy. Living in a city does not make one hard hearted or only passably good. There are people living there who are just as eager to offer and give help as people in smaller towns, but in the vastness, hustle and bustle of a big city, there seems less time, and your friends may live miles from you, instead of within a few hundred feet of your door. So, we of the small towns are content to go to the city once in a great while, to mingle with the throngs and gaze at the skyscrapers, only to come back home and be glad that we live in a small town.
Reprinted with permission from The Daily Courier. Copyright owned by The Daily Courier.