Small Towns

Small Towns

Living in a small town is wonderful.

I lived in Milwaukee until I was 12 years old and then we moved to a small town. I learned very quickly that you can’t get away with much in small towns.  Everyone knows your name, who your parents and siblings are, where you live and what kind of car you drive.

When Jack and I finally moved in together after being married for nine months we moved to a small town of about 800 people, similar in size to our childhood small towns.

This is Iola’s Main Street:

I knew this was a wonderful town shortly after moving here.

During our first spring I was planting trees in the field and decided to take our two dogs to the boat landing three miles away for a quick swim to cool off.  I hopped in the car without shoes and without my purse.  While we were at the boat landing I cut my foot open.  It was horrible, I was bleeding like crazy and from what I could tell it was a long and deep cut.  I went to the clinic in town because the closest emergency room is twenty minutes away.  I knew the receptionist, Patty, from my first winter of skiing at the ski hill.  Patty took me to a room and got me comfortable and frequently checked on my dogs that were waiting in the hot car.  I needed many stitches.  I remember saying during the stitches and in between screaming that this has to be worse than childbirth.  Since this incident I have given birth three times and I still think those stitches were more painful!  After I was stitched up I needed to get a prescription filled at the pharmacy in town.  Thankfully we have a pharmacy in town and one with a drive-up window.  I pulled up to the window and told the pharmacist, Susan, that I needed this prescription filled, but I didn’t have any money.  Susan took the paper out of my hand and then asked, “You don’t have any money now or ever?”  I reassured her that I could pay the next day.  She seemed willing to fill my prescription before knowing my answer.

When Robbie was almost two weeks old our only heat source ran out.  We woke up on that Saturday morning to a very cold house.  I called the closest supplier, Norm’s, to see if he could bring us fuel oil.  I explained that we just had a baby and we didn’t realize it was time to fill the tank.  He was here within the hour.

I became more apart of this community after having kids, because I stay home full-time, we shop at the local grocery store, I buy my gas at Norm’s, I visit the post office frequently to send packages to my sisters and we go to the library regularly.

Everyone knows where we live, who lived in our house before us, and they were probably related to someone who lived in our house at one time.  My beautician (I get my hair cut once every three years or so) remembers having hot chocolate at my house when she was a child and she remembers who I am every time I call and when I see her around town.  (She hates that I pull my hair back into a bun!)  All my neighbors go to the same church.

Since we moved here as adults we aren’t related to anyone, so no one knows our relatives (except that we are related to the library director at the Scandinavia Public Library).  It has been a little difficult to fit in because mostly everyone is related to everyone and they have known each other since kindergarten.  Some of my closest friends are also “transplants” to this town.

I often hear, Oh you’re the one…

that put the steel roof on your barn,

that fixed up that old farm-house,

that has that old tractor in your front yard.


What is that tall stuff growing in your garden?

What are you working on now?

What is your husband making in the field?

I saw your cow on the road the last time I drove by.

Here are some recent things that have happened:

Henry and I walked into our local grocery store and one of the cashier yells across the store, “Hello Henry!”

When I walked into the post office to mailed my last care package to my sister, Danna, the postmaster greeted me with, “Good morning, Jenny.”

After I posted a post about my pregnancy on my blog (which means I was ready for this news to go public) I walked through the school and every teacher I saw (even ones I don’t usually talk to) congratulated me.

I walked into the library and the librarian had my books that I had on hold waiting for me at the counter.

My favorite librarian, finds books for us that she knows our kids will love.  Oh yeah, she is related to us.

Henry recognized the woman from the bank’s drive-up window at the grocery store and told me that is the sucker lady (because she gives us a sucker every time).  I didn’t recognize her at the grocery store because she wasn’t at the bank.

We always go to the fabric store, Sew n Sew in Waupaca.  Deb, the sales woman, knows us by name (the store where I purchased my expensive machine and they should remember our names).  Deb remembers Henry loves to look at the buttons, loves to rearrange the thread display and loves the hidden zipper on one of the display pillows. She knows I come there just to look and I make plans to for my next purchase, even it is for something that costs less than $10.

I went to the feed mill and the guys joked with me about the dead chicken on the roof of my car from my previous visit.  And then one of the other employees says, “I thought you were THAT lady!” Now, they all know me by name.  Or maybe they call me the “dead chicken lady.”

I was a little embarrassed by this, so I quickly paid and left.  Maybe I should have explained…I am too lazy to dig a hole to dispose of a dead chicken, or a dead racoon that the dogs drug up from the woods or a dead deer that got hit on the road in front of my house.

My solution for the small dead animals is to put them on the roof of my car, drive slowly down the road for about one and a half miles and then step on the gas around the corner so the dead animal falls off into the ditch where there are no dogs to eat them.   Two times this method has failed me:

The first time it was a dead racoon that the dogs found in the woods and placed right under my clean clothes hanging on the line.  It was so stinky and nasty I put it in a paper grocery bag and put it on top of the car so the dogs wouldn’t chew on it and roll in it.  That is when I got the idea to “dump it” on my way to my bible study.

As I was driving away, Jack was waving me down to stop and signing to me that there is something on the roof of my car.  I gave him a thumbs-up and kept going, slowly.   Then my neighbor was pulling out of her driveway, waving me down and making signs that there was something very important on the roof of my car.  That is when I decided I should stop and take the bag off the car, just to make her happy.  I held the bag out the window until I got to my dumping spot.  I accomplished my goal to get rid of this dead raccoon but I had to touch the bag one more time.  Just thinking about this incident I can smell that nasty thing!

The second time this method failed was when the chicken didn’t fall off of the car during all my errands for the day and was still on my car when I got to the feed mill.  That morning I stopped at the cheese factory, then I drove to Jack’s work and he took me out for lunch downtown Clintonville, where we saw our dentist and dental hygienist.  The feed mill was my last stop.  I did all this driving around with a dead chicken on the roof of my car!  After this visit to the feed mill that is when the jokes started.  I wonder what the cheese factory people think of me?

I may need a new solution for these small dead animals because I have two dead chickens on the window sill in the barn.  Now that the ground is frozen I have the excuse that I am unable to dig a hole.  Really, I am not lazy!

My only solution for large animals, like a dead deer, is to get the chains out and drag it down the road to a place where there aren’t any houses and dogs.  I needed to do this once in the middle of the summer.  Thankfully no one was driving down the road or outside in their yard when I did this.

The dead steer, who strangled himself, is a whole different story.

Now that I have rambled about my dead animals.  Our small town may know that I am the one to blame for the pile up of dead animals on our road.

Everyday I am thankful that we found this small town to raise our boys in.  I love our small town and all the people here.

14 responses

  1. We are in a small town as well. The last small town moment I had was when a man described my house and animals and said that’s you right? He was right, and while I knew he was the bakery owner I had to introduce myself to learn his name!
    I also like your method of getting rid of small dead animals though I fear for your small town reputation! We also drag big things down the road then we can leave them on the wrong side of our woven wire fence where the dogs can’t get at them

    • Jessie,
      It is kind of freaky that a stranger knows who you are where you live and what you are doing at your house. I am glad you know the bakery owner’s name. You have to ask him where he lives and scope out his place!

  2. I agree Jenny, small towns are great! As are small town schools! Unfortunately, I think they are vanishing. We lost our high school this year. As for the dead animals, just drive down a dirt road and pitch them in the woods! Works for me.

    • I am glad to hear that you and Jessie have similar methods for disposing dead animals!

      I didn’t know that about your high school. I am glad that your kids are done during this change.

      I didn’t think about the school system when I picked our town. We are fortunate to have a wonderful school system!

  3. And I LOVE this post! I moved here when I was 22, and as soon as I began subbing in town I loved it! We are very fortunate to have such a great school district here! I’ve lived in a town of 300 and the largest was 4000. I couldn’t imagine living in a large city! Oh, and I knew I was in a small town for sure (and famous :)) when I drove up to the bank drive-thru and said I needed to take some cash out of my checking and the bank teller handed me a slip of paper right away with my name written on it ( I don’t stop at the bank often!).
    Your dead animal stories are hilarious!!! I couldn’t stop laughing! Now, you just need to pick the boys up from school some day with a dead chicken on the roof of your car 🙂

    • Claudine,
      I love your small town story, it is so true here in Iola! You are one of those people that make our school great! Thank you for finding Iola!!
      Oh my, having a dead chicken on the top of the car at school would be something else. I think Robbie and Charlie would suffer for the rest of their school years if that ever happened.

  4. Jenny, We are thankful you found Iola and settled here. I think the tradition of dumping dead animals from your car while driving around actually started in the township of New Hope!

    • Patty,
      Thank you! I am glad you read my blog and hope it was okay to use your name? You and Jason were the first few people (Lila was the first because she was my landlady) I met here and you two were very friendly and made me feel welcome.

  5. This was hilarious. How about burnig them in your burn barrel? Or having road kill stew? I agree about the small town atmosphere. I’ve never lived in a large town but it’s fun to walk down a streetin Abbotsford and everyone waves and calls you by name.


    • Rhonda,
      I am sad to say we don’t have a burn barrel anymore. That would be a good option. We recycle everything we can and take the rest to the garbage place here in Waupaca County.

  6. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh Jenny, you had me in stiches over this post! 😀
    My daughter was in the background saying, what are you laughing at mum! Bahahahahahahaha 😉

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