I love small towns. They are the keepers of history, the incubators of innocence, the repository of the American dream. When I think of small towns, I think of Fourth of July parades, white churches, old cars, houses with porches, vegetable stands, the American Legion.
Some of my favorite towns:
In the middle of an Illinois cornfield, (near Arthur, pop. 2,000) there is a town that is more of a crossroads than a town. The crossroads has a grocery store and a general store. So what?, you may say. Well, the surrounding farms belong to the Amish so the “parking lots” are filled with horses and buggies and the goods on the shelves are suitable for homes with no refrigeration and no modern conveniences. Bolts of cloth, needles and thread, hand tools, quilts, carved boxes and powdered everything. Like being in the nineteenth century … only you get to drive there.
A small town that is no longer small is Carefree, AZ. Thirty years ago, you’d drive up to Carefree via a narrow, slightly treacherous road. The sleepy town center was surrounded by adobe shops and restaurants, and we’d sit outside in the shade, sip margaritas and enjoy the sound of the nearby water fountain. The shops sold blankets and turquoise and baskets. Streets have names like Easy Street, Tranquil Trail and Ho and Hum Roads. Then there’s Bloody Basin and Long Rifle Roads. Of course, it is now a bustling suburb and refuge for snowbirds, but at one time it was one my favorite small towns.
One more: Galena, Illinois. The quaint town sits on the banks of the Mississippi so it is blessed with steep hills and rolling valleys. The town rises on a hillside above the main street with gorgeous old houses from the turn of the nineteenth century. The buildings on the main street haven’t changed much in the past 150 years. You can find crafts and antiques, lots of great food, and boutiques. And my favorite—used books. Nearby is a ski resort and golf course, and of course, the mighty Mississippi. It is always exciting to drive over the vast, heart-of-America, muddy Mississippi.
Okay, enough about me … tell me your favorite small town and win a chance for a $25 gift card to your favorite online bookstore (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks).