Nobody walks anywhere in a small town, except maybe next door or across the street. When I told my mother I was going to walk downtown to buy a belt, she boggled. It took me a good ten minutes to persuade her that I wasn’t kidding, and another five to talk her out of driving downtown to pick me up after I’d made my purchase.
It’s been years since I last took a long walk in Smalltown, U.S.A. Much has changed since then, though mostly only on the surface. I walked across a couple of dusty, weedy vacant lots that once held stores at which I shopped when young, and I saw quite a few buildings that had changed virtually beyond recognition in the thirty-two years since I went off to college. One of them used to be a fire station, the same one I visited on a first-grade field trip. Now it’s a schoolhouse, an Adult Basic Education Center. I wonder if the fire pole is still there….
Read the whole thing here.