In Praise of Small Towns

I was born in a small town.

Like John Mellencamp, I’m happy to say that I was born in small town, the same small town where my dad was born and where my grandma was born. I was the third generation of my family to graduate from my small-town high school.

I stayed close to home for college and was challenged to read and think and learn. And then I ventured out into the big wide world for a semester in England. My mind is more open and my heart more compassionate for knowing lots of people who have never been close to my small town.

When I was a single girl, I knew I was looking for a small-town boy to share my life. I found him driving an almost pick-up truck and living in the big city. While we appreciate the amenities that come with living in the suburbs, we are both always on the lookout for the ways we can recreate small-town experiences. Many of our closest friends are small-town people, too. We didn’t set out to look for them…but that’s who we found.

Small towns teach you that connections are important.

There’s a comfort in knowing the people who live around you and having known them for a long time. Several years ago, I took a job as a school counselor in my hometown. I loved renewing acquaintances with families who knew me and my parents and my grandparents.  It was such a privilege to support those sweet littles, knowing that my grandmother would have been so pleased and proud of the work I was doing.

Facebook has allowed us to renew some of those small-town contacts. Just this week, a friend posted about several of the sweetest parts of growing up where I did—swimming pool afternoons, soda fountain treats, and penny candy at my granny’s store. The response was quick and warm. My guess is the uncertainty of a pandemic made the sureness of those long-ago days even more important.

Of course, there are hard times in little places, but the world isn’t as lonely for small-town folks who have a network of friends and relatives to step in with support when the road gets bumpy. Need someone to take your kid to practice? I’m headed that way. Struggling with a health issue? I’m ready with a casserole or pan of brownies. Looking for someone to talk to? Give me a call.

Today, I live just down the road from my small town. My kids sometimes tease me about my rustic roots. They can’t believe that a kid drove a tractor to school every day. I smile because I know that I wouldn’t trade the lessons I learned in that rural community for anything.

I was born in a small, small town.

Beth is mom to a high school sophomore and a first year college student. After fourteen years as a professional writer and editor, she earned graduate degrees in counseling and play therapy. Now she exercises her creativity as a school counselor. Beth loves reading, especially mysteries.


  1. I live in a small-town community, Wellington, Missouri. We’ve been here 50 years now, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Yes, the FFA kids drive their tractors to school every year.


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