Hope Lives in Small Towns

After a recent trip to my hometown, I was struck with the functional differences between the Kansas City metro and Enid, Oklahoma.

In my hometown, most businesses close for Easter, Christmas and even Thanksgiving to allow families time together.

The majority of signs and billboards carry the graphic of either a cross or an empty tomb while the local newspaper prints the Easter story and the “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause” columns each year.

Presumably, many of their consumers actually read them.

Folks in my hometown understand the symbolism of these faith seasons and are not shy about declaring their beliefs.

In small towns, time moves slowly. Folks mosey across intersections, mosey into the stores and lollygag at anyone who has forgotten how to mosey.

In my hometown, you will probably run into relatives or the child of a co-worker or someone from your church.

If you make a new friend at the local Braums, while eating your double-dip of cappuccino chocolate chunk frozen yogurt, your conversation will likely sound like this:

“Weather treatin’ ya’ okay?”

“Yep. You?”

“Can’t complain.”

“You from here or just visitin’?”

Someone who knows my family will inevitably challenge me with the question, “When you movin’ back here to help take care of your mama?”

Folks in small towns grow loyal families to populate the town, support the schools and run the businesses. If you leave, you had better have a good reason for the abandonment. If you’re a decent person, you WILL move back and make your family happy.

Hope grows in small towns, because everyone hopes you will move back, help with Mama and increase the population by at least one.

When I visit my hometown, I pick up the Okie accent that has never completely left my tongue. I drive more slowly and don’t take chances at the yellow lights because — why hurry?

No one will give me the finger unless he is a farmer who lost several digits during harvest and now waves funny.

It is safer to stop on yellow and finish my cappuccino chocolate chunk frozen yogurt while observing everyone around me. I might see an old chum moseying across the intersection.

The Western Sizzlin’ restaurant recently closed. The entire community grieved and wondered what is this world coming to? We ate at Western Sizzlin’ not only to enjoy the amazing buffet of salads, breads and desserts but also to connect with the community.

We waved at strangers and talked about the wheat crop with friends. We enjoyed the commonalities of improving the economy of the region, tasting the fresh-from-the-oven rolls and remembering simpler times.

Although the world continues to change rapidly and who knows what tomorrow will bring, folks in small towns still trust each other. They know how to mosey their way into each other’s hearts.

Obviously, I miss small towns and the heritage they provide. I miss the folks I know and those I have not met. Their lives are simpler, purer — steeped in the values of country traditions.

These precious folks live somewhat sheltered lives, safe within their bungalows and the farm lanes they drive in their pickup trucks. They treasure family and work ethics while hanging on to the faith of their ancestors.

Although my work lies here in the metro where “Everything is up to date in Kansas City,” a weekend visit transports me back to the security of my foundations and the people who keep hope alive.

Hope shines within the treasure of a simpler life and its precious people.

©2019 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved

Check out my book Hope Shines, which details more of the places we can find hope.

 

16 thoughts on “Hope Lives in Small Towns

  1. Hi RJ,
    I know exactly what you are talking about. And I studied in Oklahoma City so I visited several smaller towns in OK during my time there. In fact, my small town of Girard is a lot like Enid. People here support each other and most know each other or know a member of your family. I think the best places I have lived or traveled to overseas was in or to small towns. They carry the heart and traditions of people. I will never forget traveling to a small town in Colombia and feeling like I had just visited Walton’s Mountain. I was invited to celebrate the birthday of a man in his mid-nineties. Thanks for this lovely post.
    Amy

  2. Thank you for your gracious description of our hometown! Give us a call when you’re back in “our neck of the woods”.

  3. Oh my goodness- a few years ago I met my son in Enid when he had training. I was seduced by the sweetness of the people who served me. I was bald from chemo and one young girl gave me a free fries. I thought it was such a kind gesture.

  4. You have captured the heart of all of us who grew up in a small town, and I can relate with much of what you have written: the one-finger “Oklahoma wave”, the “How’s the weather?” conversations, and taking it slow through the hometown’s one stoplight. My dad Jim Bartlett was the chief of police in Prague, Oklahoma, a very small town in central Oklahoma. Even after he passed away last year, people in town still recognize me as “one of the Bartlett” girls. Thank you for capturing the love of our small towns.

  5. Thanks for the comment, Shanna. I have been through Prague. It must have been a special place to have your dad as the chief of police and your family as beloved citizens. Here’s to the joy of growing up in small towns.

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