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« A Good Problem To Have | Main | Errand Day in Leith »

Small Towns Everywhere

A comforting thing about travel is finding the similarities among the obvious differences. The other day we were eating breakfast at a small town coffee shop in England called Friar Tucks. It reminded me of the White Lantern, the diner/hangout in the small Illinois town where I grew up -- not in looks so much as in feel. I noticed that several times the folks sitting in the booths would wave hello to the folks walking past outside. At one point an older woman waved to a man about my age, he waved back, and then she waved him inside to sit with her and her husband. I imagined he was their son.

Another, even older woman from the booth next over says to the guy coming in, "Do you always wear a helmet when you cycle, Casey?"

"Yeah," he said, to which she responded, "Then it couldn't have been you I passed on the road this morning."

Casey was silent.

I'm not sure if Casey lied about wearing his helmut or if it was some other, less safe, forty-something-cyclist, but you can be damn sure he's going to have his helmut on tomorrow. If he doesn't somebody will mention it over breakfast at Friar Tucks.

Small towns are like this. Everyone knows everyone else, and knows what they're doing. The news of my transgressions as a kid usually made it home from school before I did. You can call it being nosey or you can say it's taking an interest in each others lives. I'm sure it's some of both. I sure hope Casey wears his helmet tomorrow... and uses the crosswalk... and leaves the pub at a reasonable hour. Otherwise he's gonna hear about it at Friar Tucks.

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Reader Comments (10)

Love your blog! I found your blog from Ciao Bambino link and now I'm hooked. :)

Talking about small town reminding me of my hometown. It's so true that in a small town parents have detective eyes every where. I grew up in a small town and remembered when I was in elementary school and sneaked out to watch a movie. My mom came home and asked how was the movie! I was so baffled that she knew. From then on, I never did anything like that again. :)

It reminds me of the saying that 'It takes a village to raise a kid' which is so true. I wish we will have that sense of community here.

Mar 4, 2010 at 6:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterAmy @ The Q Family

My Mother used to say "a little birdie told me" when I wondered how she knew things - somewhere along the way I figured it out. It is a good system.

Mar 4, 2010 at 7:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterMargery

Oh gosh that is so true Bob!!! The White Lantern was the perfect place for people to tell all of our business. But I wouldn't have traded it for anything in the world. I've been away for 30 years and miss it terribly right now. I'm only a couple hours away, but at my age (51) I wish I was back in that small town in Illinois where everyone knows your name and your business.

Mar 4, 2010 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterpamela

Hello you guys!!
This is so much fun! Love this blog. I can relate!

There is a part of me that really longs for these deeper connections, this sense of belonging. I suppose we all have it in some way or another. Thank you for reminding me about where my connections are.... with my family. I'm so happy yuo are a part of it!!!!!

Big hugs to you and my babes!

Mar 4, 2010 at 10:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterKimmy Girl aka Nana

I love living in a small town (Fernandina Beach, FL) because I bump into people I know everywhere I go. Last night I tried to reach a friend by phone, and her mailbox was full. Since it was Thursday I knew that she would be at an Open Mic downtown. I went there to find her, and though she wasn't at the gig 4 other mutual friends were, so I told them to give her my message when she showed up. 2 other friends were playing.

Mar 5, 2010 at 6:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris Platel

It is fun to see just have similar life can be across the world. There are many differences in cultures, but deep down we are all humans.

Mar 5, 2010 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterJay

Great writing! I love our small town and the "feel" but I definitely miss the big city autonomy at times! I love knowing everything my kids are doing, but that "little birdie" system that goes on here sometimes bites me in the butt!!

Mar 5, 2010 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

You are reminding me of conversations I have had on the sidewalk in front of our old house in Burbank:
"Do you know whose car that is?"
"The black one? No, but it was here on Tuesday, too. I think he parks here to use his wireless laptop..."
Or those Thursday phonecalls, just before noon:
"Hey, it's street cleaning today. Don't forget to move your car!"
Not to mention those days that my trash cans rolled from the curb back to my kitchen door...all by themselves! Burbank is such a great small town. People just don't fall through the cracks in a small town.

Mar 5, 2010 at 5:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicole

I once swore that I would never again live in a small southern town because everyone knew your business. I was much younger then........... I now miss small towns now that I am much older.
European small towns are so much more friendly.
When you live even 30 miles from a very large city all the small towns seem to be eaten up into one sprawling monster, at least in the USA. . It shows in the distruction of family units. Some of my family is in Scotland and some in Atlanta and some in Arkansas but scattered as we are I still think of us as a strong family unit. I want to come live in your small town Brenna.

Mar 6, 2010 at 10:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterMOM

Do you have an email address so I can write you Brenna? Judy S. G. in Texarkana

Mar 13, 2010 at 10:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterJudy

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