The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: August 17, 2019 — Hometown Edition

War Memorial Arch, Dixon IL

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: August 17, 2019
Hometown Edition

Ronald Reagan, lifeguard

The closest I have to a “hometown” is Dixon, Illinois, on the Rock River in north central Illinois. It’s really my dad’s hometown, but I spent enough time there as a child, and lived there for a few years too, that it’s where most of my small town Midwest roots were nourished.

Dixon was where I learned to love the Cubs, sitting with my grandpa and watching games together. Dixon is where I sang my first church solo, showed promise for the first time on the baseball field, bought my first record (Best of the Kingston Trio), climbed the cliffs of the old quarry on the way to school, fished above the dam for bullheads and catfish in the Rock River, and spent all my money at our little neighborhood store buying baseball cards.

Dixon is famous for its arch, its two bridges crossing the Rock River, and its designation as “The Petunia City.” When Dutch Elm disease wiped out the trees gracing its streets and yards in the late 1950s, a group of concerned citizens began planting petunias all around town and tending them each year. Now there is an annual festival and the city is abloom with color. Dixon is also known as “The Catfish Capital of Illinois.” And Dixon has one of the most beautiful high school buildings you’ll ever see.

Dixon High School, home of the Dukes. Dixon, Illinois

My grandparents, my little brother, and many aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends are buried in Dixon. All of our family ties with the town are now historical.

Dixon was the childhood home of Ronald Reagan, and you can visit that very house today. Charles R. Walgreen Sr., who founded the drugstore chain, was from Dixon by way of Galesburg, another Illinois town where I lived during my childhood. A couple of pro basketball players and a major league umpire hailed from here. It was just up the road from Dixon, in Grand Detour, that John Deere made his self-scouring steel plow that forever changed Midwest farming. It was at Dixon (then Dixon’s Ferry) that Abraham Lincoln joined the militia at Fort Dixon during the Blackhawk War.

Abraham Lincoln statue, Dixon, Illinois

We attended the Methodist church in town, and this is where I have my first vivid memories of sanctuary, liturgy, candles, sermons, Sunday School, choir, and a sense of the holy.

First United Methodist Church, Dixon Illinois (2010)

Here’s a drone video that will give you a sense of the town and the region…

A flyover of Dixon and the Rock River (City of Dixon website)

I thought it might be fun to see what was happening in the news in and around Dixon during three generations of our family.

  • 100 years ago, when my grandfather was young, what was Dixon like?
  • And how about 70 years ago, when my dad was a teenager in high school?
  • I lived there 50 years ago, in the tumultuous final years of the 1960s. What was happening in this little burg then?

Here are some snippets from the Dixon Evening Telegraph —from 1919, 1949, and 1969 — with commentary in the captions.


100 years ago — August 1919

Newspaper ad for a Studebaker Light-Six. W.R. Thompson, Dixon, IL

One of the hallmarks of small town newspapers has always been the social notices – who is visiting whom and who is doing what. Pretty much everybody knows your business in a place like Dixon in 1919.

Keeping up with everyone’s business in town included public announcements about every aspect of life — births, who was admitted or discharged from the hospital, who was taking a new job, who was having whom over for a get together, and…who was having marital troubles.

My grandpa was from around here during WWI, my dad came of age here during WWII, and I was a boy here during Vietnam. But Dixon has an even longer wartime past. Here’s a notice for a Civil War reunion in 1919.

Pretty good price in 1919 for all you’d get.

70 years ago — August 1949

The state of Illinois, including Dixon, had to deal with a deadly polio outbreak in 1949.

The house we lived in in Dixon had an old coal bin. In 1949 it would have been full.

This was the year my dad turned 16. Didn’t cost him much to get that driver’s license.

Millions of refugees from World War II were an matter of concern in 1949. Here was a church in Dixon trying to educate themselves so they could help.

In 1919, my grandpa’s Cubs finished in third. In 1949, my dad was rooting for their arch rivals and a pretty good player named Stan the Man.

50 years ago — August 1969

In 1969, our small town stores were trying something new — staying open a couple times a week in the evening!

For $25,000 you could get a pretty fancy new house in Dixon in 1969.

1969 was going to be the year, at long last, for the Cubs. In August we were sure of it. Then came the Miracle Mets, and they stole my childhood from me…

This was what was on most people’s minds…and on the front page every day.

Speaking of the military, here is news in the paper about some members of my family from 1969.

I am a town…

One of the best songs ever written about small towns like Dixon is this one by Mary Chapin Carpenter. It’s about “a town in Carolina,” but people all across this land can relate to the pictures she paints with words and music.

• • •

I’ll bet many of you grew up in small towns in the Midwest or elsewhere. Some of you are still living in those places. It’s easy for me to get sentimental about that simpler life and all. (There’s a reason It’s a Wonderful Life is my all-time favorite movie, you know. And I’m a big fan of Mayberry and Lake Woebegone too.)

However, we realize there were all kinds of problems inherent on Main St. and in the neighborhoods of small town America too. I’m sure some of us, in fact, fled those environments because we found them parochial, limiting, or even oppressive in certain ways. Nevertheless, I find there is much to appreciate and much for which to thank God about my roots and my heritage as a native of “fly-over” country in the heart of the heartland.

What has been your experience of small town life, either in America or elsewhere?

I think that’s a good question to throw around the Brunch table this morning. Have at it!

57 thoughts on “The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: August 17, 2019 — Hometown Edition

  1. and everything in my old neighborhood felt alien and unfamiliar.

    Exactly. Got the same feeling when I was “home” for a funeral a few years back. It seemed that I had found a place that was sort of like home was but wasn’t really there anymore.


  2. The other side of the narrative is small town renewal, and the rebuilding of Main St America.

    And even big town. I was in the Cincinnati / Covington / Newport area a week ago for a wedding. Had not been there in 40 years. 40 years ago much of the area seemed like a war zone. Major efforts have been made to renew the place. Lots of older buildings cleaned up, repaired, and occupied by businesses. I hope it was well done.


  3. It was a special place. I felt it too. I think that specialness of the Oakland Public library was what got me interested in books when I was a kid.


  4. it was a Church? then that explains it . . . . . that I used to drive down the mountain to sit for a while in the library sometimes with a coffee in the upstairs area loft to look at the beams and enjoy the symmetry and ‘something else’ about it . . . it was a peaceful retreat for me on occasion, a good memory

    silly me, hanging out in an old library when I might have been ‘at the gym’, but needs must and something about that place WAS especially restorative and I felt that the first time I was there
    . . . good to find out it was once a Church, residual peaceable vibes maybe????


  5. Back in the 70s and possibly later, the local paper would publish divorce notices and the cause was usually “cruel and unusual treatment,” usually by the husband. This was apparently boilerplate, just to qualify for divorce. Later it became “irreconcilable differences.” Now I don’t see it in the papers at all.


  6. Did I mention that Les Paul, the great electric guitar and recording innovator, lived for many year, until his death, in Mahwah, the next town over from Oakland, and less than five miles from our home? You could say he was a neighbor of ours.

    Just wanted to do a little name-dropping.


  7. The public library was originally the first church in the community, the Ponds Church, built by the Dutch. It was rebuilt and renovated a couple of times.


  8. Ah, I would not have known your eldest sister, as I left for college in 1973. I loved Humboldt, too. Arcata has its weirdness, and that’s part of its charm… Generally, we look back at our late teens and early 20s as the heyday of our lives, when we hopefully begin to learn how to figure things out…

    “Home” for me will always be the Redwood Coast.



  9. I’ve alternated between cities an suburbs my whole life. I never lived in a small town, and reading some of those newspaper clippings, I can’t say that I’m sorry. I do still have my great-grandmother’s angel food cake recipe that made it into the newspaper in Gravity, Iowa, at about the same time as those petitions for divorce were published in Dixon, though.

    I had that Kingston Trio album, too.

    Also: Ted, that’s probably where the admonition regarding babies comes from: “The first baby can come at any time. The rest take nine months.”


  10. Interesting Saturday read. Loved reading everyone’s posts. (Curiously, talking about small town experiences seems to be almost more unifying than talking about Jesus…LOL.)


  11. Dana, My eldest sister and fam. lived in Ft. Bragg 80s-90s then moved to Sacaramento. My folks lived in Mckinleyville, my Dad graduated Cal State Humbold as have a number of my nieces/nephews.. My younger sister and husband [who still live in McKinleyville] have oft referred to Arcata as “The Sixties by the Sea.”


  12. I grew up in Coon Rapids, MN (who has a team in the Little League World Series btw). No real claim to fame, except once during a Carrot Top show (again, I said no claim to fame…) he kept making fun of Coon Rapids. Can’t really say it was a small town when I was there with 30K people (probably around 50-60K now). Coon Rapids sits right on the bank of the mighty Mississippi River, and a local park is home to an annual Carp Fest!

    Now that I live in a distant suburb of Atlanta, GA…I can honestly say that I really REALLY appreciate small towns! Here in Georgia, small towns are interesting…the really small ones can be identified by an “unincorporated” sign…or no signage at all. Usually consist of a few buildings, such as a pig roast joint, a bar, and a few nondescript homes.

    Oh, and you can’t throw a rock without hitting some IFB (Independent Fundamentalist Baptist) church.


  13. sounds like the old steel-mill towns in western PA . . . my husband is from Butler, and when the mills closed, it all went . . . . well, let’s put it this way: Butler is now said to be the ‘drug pick-up place for Pittsburgh’ . . . . rumor?
    not exactly, it came from an ex-cop, former police detective, now dead, best friend of my husband growing up

    who knows the truth ? town was once full of Irish and Germans and Eastern Europeans (‘Yo-Town’ section), all ethnic, the whole place was full of energy and life when the mills were running

    story of many a town in our country . . . rust belt stuff, I guess. . . the coming of Trump was perhaps inevitable,
    as people were looking for some kind of ‘savior’ . . . . but for what they got INSTEAD there are no words that are printable here


  14. And in the annual town reports they used to record marriages with names and dates; and births with names and dates. Of course, friends and family could count to 9 so there was nothing new there, but this made it public.


  15. We got our records from a well-stock wooden rack at Kemppe’s Hardware. If they didn’t have it, they could order it for pick-up the next week.



  16. I lived in Butte, Montana until I was 7, home of the Anaconda Copper Company – where you could own your house, but the Company owned the mining rights to the land on which it sat… It wasn’t a “small town”(60,000 in 1960, fewer people now) but it felt like it, since my mother was born there and had connections with a lot of people, most especially the Italian and Irish immigrants. There was “the Hill”, comprising the original settlement and the red brick buildings of the downtown business area and the fancy late 19th century homes of the Copper Kings, and “the Flat” to the southeast, where the new development was taking place. When I lived there, the Berkeley Pit continued to swallow up the area in between. I was walking the three blocks from my house to the Library on my own when I was six. There was an afterthought of a slag pile catty-corner to my house; when it got covered in the abundant winter snow, its longest side made an excellent sledding run for a small child on a collapsed cardboard box. My two favorite cousins still live there, along with most of their family members. Anthony Bourdain’s piece on Butte captures the flavor of the place.

    Where I grew up, though, was a small town – Fort Bragg, California – named for the same Civil War general as the NC Army base, but otherwise completely unknown (Mendocino, 12 miles south, had some notoriety in the Hippie days). The Fort itself was established to monitor the native people – who were completely peaceful – and was very short-lived; only one small wooden building remains, next to City Hall. Population when I was growing up was about 5000 in the city limits, with almost that many people additionally in the woods in the outlying areas. The town is relatively isolated, the only way in or out (by land) being one of three very curvy two-lane roads. But so beautiful, with the variegated light and colors of the ocean and the sky, the sound of the waves, and the smell a combination of salt water, blackberry leaves and decaying vegetation of the surrounding redwood forest. Lumber was king, and built the town; then came the fishing industry. Both have been depleted for decades, and the town now runs mostly on tourism. It was a safe, mostly comfortable place to spend a childhood, full of late Victorian dwellings with a handful of Craftsman gems. As Robert wrote above, the “constraints of closely bound, small, insular community’s expectations and requirements” made me and most of my peers want to leave as soon as we finished High School. A few stayed; a few returned in later years. I went to another coastal town, Arcata, for college, which, with its neighboring city of Eureka, had the familiar lumbering/fishing vibe, and was yet much more expansive than my home town in so many ways.

    The Pacific is a deep part of my soul. There are reasons I wouldn’t want to move back to my home town, but I’m so grateful that for the past +30 years, living in the county seat, it’s only 65 minutes until I can fill my lungs with that smell, feel either the stillness of the fog or the ever-present wind when the sun shines, and settle in to watch the endless waves – with awe, because in their power the have taken people I knew to their depths, including a friend in my graduating class. On the rare days when it’s warm enough to take off my shoes and walk on the beach, I will remember making sand castles and decorating them with shells and seaweed and the small clear, marble-sized jellyfish the waves washed up. I can’t imaging ever living any farther away than a few hours’ drive.



  17. I grew up in Freeport, IL, a half-hour drive north of Dixon. It’s also the hometown of Scot McKnight. Freeport has fallen on hard times. Folks started moving out, though sometimes to smaller surrounding villages, in the seventies. Each economic downturn has left the town Ill-equipped to cope with the changes. Lots of closed churches.


  18. You’re right. My small town has the advantage of being in the vicinity of Indianapolis, so goods and services are readily available. We also have a college, which benefits us with a more progressive spirit. It is different in the small, more rural towns. Some of Indiana’s more out of the way small towns were at the forefront of the opioid crisis, jobs are a problem, and health care in rural America is a crapshoot.

    One of the advantages Dixon always had was that for many years it has had a teaching hospital, a correctional facility, and at one time, a state mental health hospital. It is the county seat (as is the town where we live), It’s also near the interstate and some other major highways, so it is accessible and a good place for economic activity and trade. It was on a main train route from Chicago, though that is not quite as significant these days. And of course, historically, the river.

    In recent years, it gained attention when a city employee engaged in the largest municipal embezzling scam in the country, and when a gunman entered the high school. It hasn’t been able to hide from these kinds of problems, either.


  19. YES

    before we left the area, I thought it had been ‘converted’ into something ‘else’, but I always loved MFM

    good memories~ when my youngest wouldn’t eat enough or so I thought, I would actually drive him into Oakland to the Burger King, even in the winter time, . . . . in the SNOW 🙂 . . . but he ate


  20. I live in NE Tennessee, Kingsport to be specific. The town is definitely renewing while maintaining something of a small town feel. However, there is a definite undercurrent of the things Allen described.


  21. I grew up in the suburbs of a medium-sized city; today I live in a large metropolitan area. When I was in my 20’s I lived for a short time in what was then a rural part of Hanover County, VA, north of Richmond. Today that area has become an extension of the Richmond suburbs. Otherwise the smallest place I’ve lived is Charlottesville, VA, where I lived when I attended the University of Virginia. I spent several of those summers in Charlottesville working and/or attending summer classes. Back then the suburbs only extended a short distance to the north and east and there was little nightlife away from the university. From what I understand Charlottesville is a much different place today.


  22. The other side of the narrative is small town renewal, and the rebuilding of Main St America. It’s happening where I live now and, reading the Dixon city website, I see evidence of itthere too.


  23. Robert, I know Oakland! We had a lake house up Skyline Drive in one of the three lake communities for years!
    Oakland is a lovely place, and the beauty of the architecture in its town library is phenomenal, a work of art with all those wooden beams! And the Dairy Queen! And there was some kind of a seafood restaurant there for a time on the corner at the big intersection where you could go three directions:
    one up the hill to the industrial office park, one a little road that went into Pompton Lakes (the Hillside Diner, yum), and one that went up to a ‘mall’ like structure with a Shop Rite (or something like that, big store)

    lucky you! Sweet little town, Oakland. Place to drive down Skyline Drive and catch the highway into NYC.
    you are right about the hills, the mountains, the lakes . . . . . enchanted area and only an hour from NYC


  24. More and more of rural America is sharing the same impoverishment and social problems of poor urban neighborhoods. Yet politicians exploit ingrained bigotry and ignorance to turn these two groups of American people against each other for political gain, despite the fact that real solutions for both group’s problems would overlap.


  25. There is sadness that is happening to rural America that both politcal parties won’t address for different reason. The Dems are focused on Urban America issues while GOP doesn’t want to acknowledge what is happening in rural America since that goes against their narrative.

    It’s sad that residence of rural America are more scared of a fact threat than the really threat that they refuse to address.


  26. I grew up in a large town/small city (then) south of Johannesburg, called Vereeniging. Home of heavy industry. Growing up in the eighties meant you could see what you breathe. The joke was – in the winter, the sparrows cough you awake. This was also the height of the “Struggle Years” we had bomb drills etc from time to time. I left when I went to University. It’s other claims to fame were that it was were the Peace that ended the Boer War (1902) was agreed upon, and that it was the constituency of FW de Klerk in the years leading up the final end of apartheid in 1994.

    Now, like a sizable portion of my classmates now live far away. Of the ones that I know of, we are spread across SA, Canada, US, Aus, NZ, UK, Switzerland, Spain, Dubai etc….


  27. Where autonomy = freedom from the constraints of closely bound, small, insular community’s expectations and requirements — dictatorship of the gossips.


  28. Couldn’t the same as time fs be expressed about church life?

    When I think of anonymity, my mind goes to autonomy.


  29. I was a military kid. Always moving. Coast to coast and back and forth across country many times, and then I was a military wife and same thing. No home town. Except . . . except . . . . . My mother’s people were from a little town in North Carolina, Plymouth, on the banks of a river that now overflows mercilessly. I’ve visited many times, and attended a wedding there, and oh so many funerals when the old people passed. There’s house there where my grandmother was born, the Ausbon-Windley House, and it has a plaque on it and is one of the ante-bellum homes in the town, the site of a Civil War squirmish where a sniper in an upper window was shot and then staggered down the steps and died in the front hall . . . his blood still stains the wood floors regardless of the many attempts to remove the stain. It is said that his ghost haunts the home in a friendly way, but I figure it’s probably one of the old ‘aunts’ who stayed with the family after the slaves were ‘set free’ when the elderly black women who were dear to the family had no other place to go. Stories. Letters. One from the Civil War, a great-uncle ‘Gib’ who had been injured and wrote home asking if ‘a suit of clothes’ might be made for him from a wool blanket. That kind of letter that you don’t see these days. I was allowed to read a copy of it and was humbled by the graciousness of it. The house has damage in one of the chimneys were a cannon ball was fired from the river during the skirmish.
    And when I visited, my cousins were, even on the hottest summer days, dressed in the coolest summer dresses, and not a hair out of place, which always amazed me. Strange the images that come back, of sweet tea and flower gardens filled with irises and such, and porch chairs to rock in. Time stands still in such places. And if I never had a proper home town, I always thought of little Plymouth as though it WERE mine in a way, though I never lived there, it was still ‘familiar’ to me and I cannot explain that exactly. But when we visited, it was a bit of heaven and a little like ‘going home’. Lovely old town. Peaceful still. Graves filled with my people. And a ghost of no one knows who, keeps peaceful watch in that house where my grandmother was born. I love that town. You bet.


  30. An expat Southerner living in Your Nation’s Capital, who grew up in Griffin, Georgia in a little Cotton Mill Village. The culture was fading then, although no one realized it until globalization finally wiped out a whole way of life that stretched back into the nineteenth Century. For a kid that’s where the summer jobs were and so I got a glimpse of it. A tremendous frame of reference and comparison although like most of my generation I couldn’t get away fast enough. I moved to Atlanta to go to school and I’ve been more or less an urbanite ever since. Atlanta, Louisville, New Orleans, Atlanta again and now DC.


  31. That’s definitely life in a small town for some.

    Others get blacklisted by the local gossips, and no one will help them.


  32. Grew up in the middle class ‘burbs of Los Angeles. Pretty unexciting childhood. Left decades ago.


  33. Here’s an example that I think exemplifies the virtues of small town life:
    A few years ago my mother was scheduled for gall bladder surgery. It was January, and on the day of her procedure, there was a light snow that morning. This is South Carolina, so of course she called the hospital to tell them she could not come in and needed to reschedule the surgery. The nurse she spoke to said, “Before we do that, let me check on something and call you back.” A few minutes later, the nurse called back and said, “I spoke to your surgeon, and he said he can stop at your place and pick you up this morning, if that’s okay with you.” So the surgeon (whom my mother had known for years, since he went to high school with us) came to her house, helped her climb up into his old beat-up pickup truck, and carried her to the hospital so he could take her gall bladder out.
    That’s life in a small town.


  34. I LOVED John Stewart; had all his albums and was quite saddened when he died at age 68.

    “Maybe some lonely picker will find some meaning in this song”


  35. Speaking of the Kingston Trio, of which my father had one of their albums and often played, … As a teenager in Phoenix sometime around ’71 my father and I saw John Steward in concert.


  36. I grew up mostly in the sleepy suburban community of Oakland, NJ, which is designated in its Wikipedia article as a borough in (northwest) Bergen county, and a suburb of New York City (about 36 miles from NYC). Most of the people living in Oakland at the time were commuters to NYC and its New York and NJ environs. It was an upper middle-class town that had gone from a sparsely populated place (originally home to the Lenni Lanape tribe, then partly purchased but mostly conquered by the Dutch), with a few small farms and plenty of wilderness, to an intentionally developed suburb after WWII.

    Oakland offered many lifestyle advantages. It was nestled in part of the valley formed by the Ramapo River and its mountains. Our home was on a newly developed cul de sac; the river was less than a hundred yards away, and behind our house were miles and miles of undeveloped wilderness all the way to the equally undeveloped wildernesses of Upstate NY. Good schools, good outdoor recreation opportunities, plenty of lakes and ponds (at one time the whole area was called “The Ponds” by the Dutch), forests and mountains, easy access to NYC in less than an hour drive. Its downtown was definitely “small town”, and I think the municipality strove to keep it that way. When I was growing up there (mid 1960s to late 70s) the population was just under 15000, with lots of kids and schools for them; now there are around 12000 people, and I presume far fewer children.

    I haven’t been back there in years; all my family has moved out to other areas of NJ, I’m in PA, and much has changed since my childhood. My old neighborhood still exists, but the one or two times in the last twenty years that I’ve been in the area and drove through, I couldn’t feel even the ghosts of my childhood. The mountains across from our old house have been developed into upscale dwellings, and everything in my old neighborhood felt alien and unfamiliar. But my connection to the Oakland of my childhood is deeper than I can say. Its mountains, lakes, and forests made an indelible impression on my soul; as a socially awkward boy with few friends, the natural landscape of my hometown was my closest friend. In it I knew a mystery and openness, a terrain of hope and peace, that was more important to my psychological and spiritual survival as a child growing up in a home filled with domestic strife and emotional violence than I can measure. Now it exists only in my memory, but at increasingly great distances even there, hard for me to touch or recall. But at least I know it existed; that is very important to me, more important than I can explain rationally.


  37. I grew up in a small town in the San Francisco Bay Area called San Carlos. It is no longer a small town but I miss the small town that it was. I have fond memories of the Kingston Trio. My dad was good friends with Nick Reynolds and they used to duck hunt together.


  38. My hometown in East Tennessee is a sad place. No retail except for a Wally World, other shopping centers are abandoned. Health care system has collapsed. Opioid crisis is rampant. The town makes the national news when ICE makes a raid on slaughter houses. The remaining Caucasian citizens obsess with MAGA and guns and the coming take over by sharia law. A Baptist church attended by my family (in a nearby city) is guarded by armed men with concealed carry. A culture that produced the service men who won two world wars has collapsed.

    My wife loves Hallmark movies. Small town girl goes to the big city, only to return to small town to marry her high school sweetheart. Town is beautiful, people are healthy, parks are well kept, stores are small. That doesn’t match my town.


  39. I grew up in Hesston, Kansas where I grew up with Mennonites even though my family was SBC. It was a wonderful place to grow up in the 1980’s.

    Now I look back and I believe that the biggest impact that growing up with Mennonites was their position on war. As a Christian, I am seeing the wisdom of Christians being against war unless it is the last resort. We are called to bring the peace of Christ to the world and we are to be the peace of Christ in the world.


  40. First comment apparently got lost in the ether. If it duplicates, my apologies.

    “Keeping up with everyone’s business in town included public announcements about every aspect of life — births, who was admitted or discharged from the hospital, who was taking a new job, who was having whom over for a get together, and…who was having marital troubles.”

    This, to my modernist individualist mind, is anathema. The potential for abuse far outweighs the benefits. Give me big city anonymity any day rather than this.


  41. “Keeping up with everyone’s business in town included public announcements about every aspect of life — births, who was admitted or discharged from the hospital, who was taking a new job, who was having whom over for a get together, and…who was having marital troubles.”

    Yeah, it’s probably modernist and individualist of me, but the very idea of this makes my skin crawl. Give me urban anonymity anytime instead of THIS.


  42. I spent the first 17 years of life growing up in Phoenix, AZ. It was a smaller city then than it now is, but certainly not “small town”. Until recently I didn’t live in a town, but outside of such. Much of adult life was similar to what you describe, including the personal tidbits in the once a week newspaper.


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