Small Towns and Summer People, Part #1

Some of you have probably received a list of “small town isms” from a friend. There are a few lists posted here and there on the Internet.  The funny thing is, I didn’t grow up in a small town, though many friends did.  The list took me somewhere else.  I was, and still am, a “Summer Person”.

For those who missed this mailing, here’s a combination of two lists:


Those who grew up in small towns will laugh when they read this. Those who didn’t will be astonished and won’t understand how true it is.

1) You can name everyone you graduated with.

2) You know what 4-H means.

3) You went to parties at a pasture, barn, gravel pit, or in the middle of a dirt road.  On Monday you could always tell who was at the party because of the scratches on their legs from running through the woods when the party was busted. (See #5.)

4) You used to drag Main Street.

5) You scheduled parties around the schedules of different police officers, because you knew which ones would bust you and which ones wouldn’t.

6) You could never buy cigarettes because all the store clerks knew how old you were (and if you were old enough, they’d tell your parents anyhow.) Besides, where would you get the money?

7) You knew which section of the ditch you would find the beer your buyer dropped off.

8) It was cool to date somebody from the neighboring town.

9) The whole school went to the same party after graduation.

10) You didn’t give directions by street names but rather by references.  “Turn by Nelson’s house, go 2 blocks to Anderson’s, and its four houses left of the track field.”

11) The golf course had only 9 holes.

12) You couldn’t help but date a friend’s ex-boyfriend/girlfriend.

13) Your car stayed filthy because of the dirt roads, and you will never own a white vehicle for this reason.

14) The town next to you was considered “trashy” or “snooty”, but was actually just like your town.

15) You referred to anyone with a house newer than 1955 as
the “rich” people.

16) The people in the“big city” dressed funny, and then you picked up the trend 2 years later.

17) Anyone you wanted could be found at the local gas station, the Dairy Creme or the feed store.

18) You saw at least one friend a week driving a tractor through town or one of your friends driving a grain truck to school occasionally.

19) The gym teacher suggested you haul hay or pick rock for the summer to get stronger.

20) Directions were given using THE stop light as a reference.

21) When you decided to walk somewhere for exercise, 5 people would pull over and ask if you wanted a ride.

22) Your teachers called you by your older siblings’ names.

23) Your teachers remembered when they taught your parents.

24) You could charge at any local store or write checks without any ID.

25) There was no McDonalds.

26) The closest mall was over an hour away.

27) It was normal to see an old man riding through town on a riding lawn mower.

28) You’ve peed in a wheat field.

29) Most people went by a nickname.

30) You laughed your butt off reading this because you know it is true, and you forward it to everyone who may have lived in a small town.

Now – as Bill Crosby would say, I told you that story so I could tell you this one.  I should add that this is not totally a rosy trip down memory lane, all polished in a mirror of the past.  We had a summer cottage in a little village in Michigan, spitting distance from the big lakes.  At homecoming, there was a “Miss Village” and a “Miss Summer Village” contest.  I grew up in a medium-sized town, and I knew I didn’t belong in the village, because I simply didn’t think or act like most of the other kids.  A small town year-round might have killed me (or the best part of me.)  But for 2-4 weeks every year, it was interesting.  And like all small towns, if you weren’t born there, you were still from “away” until your dying day.  My family started going up to that county in the 1920s, but we’re still just Summer People, 90 years later.

(To be continued…)

Posted in Humor permalink

About Katharine Eliska Kimbriel

Cat Kimbriel is working on a a contemporary fantasy about curses, ecological change, and very different ways of looking at the twilight worlds. She's still working on a short Nuala piece and mulling over a new Alfreda novel. You can find her fantasy & science fiction, including free samples, at her Book View Café bookshelf. These books can also be found at major online booksellers. Her personal blog is here, and you will find her on whatever social media currently interests her. Cat builds worlds that contain compassion and justice -- come join the journey.


Small Towns and Summer People, Part #1 — 3 Comments

  1. Huh. Your place had a stoplight?

    These days, most small towns have a Subway. It’s interesting that this is the most likely fast food place to be found in any small back of beyond town.

    There’s also one more thing to add–in the small town, everyone shows up for middle school promotion, high school graduation, and the main entertainment is school sports.

    And then there’s the mandatory school break for the opening weekend of hunting season.

  2. The stoplight is fairly new — in the last 25 years. I don’t know if school is out for the first week of hunting season (Michigan probably uses every snow day they have before the end of the school year) but I DO know that the Texan-from-Montana who was the building contractor on my house turned out to leave for four weeks during the elk season, to hunt with his brothers. The architect would not continue on the house until the guy got back. It’s why I never called him for any other work — I could not trust him to show up until the job was done.

  3. And, yes to the Subway theory — at least in Texas, small towns of a certain size have a Subway. Usually, it’s the best place to get guaranteed quality (except for one in South Oklahoma/North Texas — one of those salads that look like a poor school cafeteria made it….)