Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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April 3, 2014

‘Small town, USA’ has advantages, disadvantages

Athens — Living in a small town can have its advantages and disadvantages. For me, personally, I love “Small Town USA.”

Some disadvantages possibly are: if you do something out of character, everyone will know by tomorrow morning; everybody tends to be related, so watch what you say;  limited resources;  it's not easy to broaden your horizons; and driving more than 50  miles to the nearest mall.

Here are some advantages: familiarity; security; a slower-paced lifestyle; and close-knit community. Not a very impressive list.

I made the choice many years ago to move to Henderson County. Honestly, it had nothing to do with the lake. Jackie and I were just looking for some acreage and a smaller school district for our son, Justin, to attend.

I read something recently, that said when you live in a small town, you get invited to everything. The  reasoning was because there are fewer people to go around, and so they need everyone to pitch in.

You will be invited to every party, every charitable cause, everything you can imagine on day one.  You will think you are the most popular person in town, but you will soon learn that nobody is excluded from anything. 

Not to say there are not good people everywhere. It just seems that since I have lived in Henderson County, I have come across more than my share of very good people.

Here’s a few of my favorite small-town stories.

Recently,  I went to the Athens Post Office to mail a couple of packages. After getting my credit card out of my wallet, I picked up the packages. When I got out of my car, I had the packages, my keys but no credit card.

The only logical thing that could have happened was I dropped the card in my car. Logical maybe, but no it was not in my car.  I spent about 15 minutes in the parking lot of the Post Office looking for the elusive credit card. I never figured out what I did with it.

It wasn't under the seats. I checked under the car. I even moved the car from the original parking spot to check to see if the card had blown further under the car. No card. I was late for a meeting, and had to leave, disappointed.

The only thing left to do was cancel the card. Not so fast. The Athens Post Office called the Athens Review to report someone had turned my card into the Post Office. Great. But how did the post office  know where I worked?

When I retrieved my card, I asked the very nice lady at the Post Office how they knew to call the Athens Review. She said she had seen my name in the paper. “Small Town USA,” where everyone knows your name. Hey, thanks to the Athens Post Office, I didn't have to cancel my card    again.

I have to admit, I read the Dallas Morning News often, but I cannot  tell you the name of one of their local reporters. What I do know, is most of the reporters in Henderson County.

My other great story about living in a small town was when I worked at The Cedar Creek Pilot in Gun Barrel City.

Each morning, I would drive through Whataburger for breakfast. It sure is good.

On this particular morning, a young man working at the restaurant  gave me the wrong order. No problem. I took it back to the paper and proceeded to eat it.

A few minutes later, that same  young man showed up at the paper with the correct order. I asked how did he know where I worked? 

“Someone in the restaurant told me you work for the Pilot.”

There you go,  Small Town USA.

There was the time my car broke down and the Chief of Police in Gun Barrel City called the paper to let me know some police officers were going to push it out of the middle of the road. Luckily he knew where I worked. It possibly would have been towed in a big city.

One of my favorite quotes is, “Living in a small like living in a large family of rather uncongenial relations. Sometimes it’s fun, and sometimes it’s perfectly awful, but it’s always good for you. People in large towns are like only-children.”

Kathi Nailling is a Staff Writer for the Athens Daily Review.

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