Growing up in the small town of North Bloomfield was an important part of my early life and will always be with me. Over the years, with the exception of five years in college and three at my first job, I have continued to live in small towns or villages, and it is the kind of life that I have enjoyed.
We all make decisions about where we want to live. They may depend on job opportunities, family situations, and as we reach retirement, where we feel most comfortable and perhaps be near family.
Small-town living has many advantages that I have enjoyed. Yes, some say there are disadvantages and that may depend on what one enjoys and the kind of life they want to live.
To me some, advantages of growing up and living in a small town or village include the lack of congestion and hustle and bustle that often goes with city living. Quieter roads or streets and less traffic to deal with make life simpler.
It is easier to get to know your neighbors and friends and be able to call them by their first name when you meet them on the street. When you go to the bank or post office, you usually see people you know and find things to talk about. It is more than just walking by people and not knowing or greeting them.
Usually there is some kind of meeting place for small groups that get together to solve the world's problems.
I can remember the small group of men that would gather around the big stove in Elmer's Grocery and talk about all kinds of things. One individual often had all the answers to what was wrong in the community and the world. Other groups met in the local restaurant for coffee and social time.
Those groups exist all over the country wherever you travel. For example, when we go over to Maryland to visit family, we often stop for a coffee break at a restaurant in Mifflintown, central Pennsylvania. There is usually a group of men back in one corner enjoying a lively discussion, sometimes agreeing and sometimes not.
Much of our social life when I was growing up centered around church and school activities. It was, and is by today's standards, a small school. We had many chances to be involved in school activities since our numbers were small. I played saxophone in the band, and was involved in dramatics and academic activities. I was not a good athlete but had many other things to fill my schedule.
Neighbors seem to be more inclined to help each other in small communities. They would know when someone was sick or needed help and would be available. Yes, this can and does happen in urban neighborhoods, but usually not as often.
Since I grew up many years ago, times were very different. Our telephones were boxes that hung on the wall, and we were on a party line with three or four others. We responded to our special ring.
Rumor said that a few ladies who wanted to know what was going on in the neighborhood had a habit of listening in to rings that weren't theirs to find out what their neighbors were doing.
Yes, there can be "small town politics" as there probably are in every community. But the positive, friendly organizations and groups offset the negative attitudes that may crop up.
Today, I still live in a small village and enjoy this way of living. It is always good when we go to the store and see someone we know and have a chance to visit and be able to speak to everyone in church by their first name. Or go out to breakfast with friends and meet a group that is usually there and enjoy some friendly kidding with each other.
To have the right to chose where we want to live is important to each one of us. Country, small town, urban or city are choices we have, and it's a good thing we don't all want to live in the same places.
Parker is an independent writer for the Tribune.