25 Signs You Grew Up In A Small Town via The Small Stuff Counts Blog

25 Signs You Grew Up In A Small Town

Growing up in a small town is something the city kids (like my husband) will just never understand. I say I live in a small place now, but it is huge compared to my hometown. Actually, I didn’t even grow up in a small town, but rather on a dairy farm in between two small towns in northeast Iowa: one with 600 people (at least that’s what the welcome sign claimed), and the other with 2,000 people. If you also grew up in a small town, then you will be able to relate to this list.

  1. The grocery store was also the place to rent movies, drop off dry cleaning and leave your rolls of film to be developed.

  2. You could name every person in your graduating class.

  3. When you called the wrong number, the person who answered politely gave you the correct number.

  4. You used the alley entrances to businesses more than the front door.

  5. You never carried a key for your house because it was always unlocked. And, just in case, the only key was “hidden” in your mailbox or a flower pot so your neighbors, relatives and mailman would know where to find it if needed.

  6. You could charge things at businesses without a credit card (and the clerk knew who to charge it to without asking for your name).

  7. Teachers always referred to you by your oldest sibling’s name. They probably taught all of your siblings plus your parents.

  8. People could always find you. Flower deliveries made it to you no matter where you were at the time because the delivery person knew where to look and who to ask.

  9. You were somehow related to nearly everyone in town.

  10. Store owners left their doors unlocked with a sign that said “gone to the bank, be right back”.

  11. An exciting day was driving the 30 miles to the nearest WalMart or McDonalds.

  12. Your parallel parking test in drivers ed. was pointless because there were rarely cars to practice parking in between, so you just drove right into the spot and the teacher gave you an ‘A’.

  13. Everything shut down for high school football. When the team made the playoffs, the musical was rescheduled because the lead actor was also the quarterback.

  14. Driving a tractor to school was an acceptable thing to do, and there was likely a day designated to doing so each year.

  15. When high school sweethearts move back to your town and get married, the weekly newspaper dedicates two entire pages to the details of their wedding.

  16. A high school girl was crowned the town queen during your annual festival.

  17. You were encouraged to bring a prom date from a different school just so there was a crowd at prom. Oh, and prom likely included a sit-down meal for everyone before the dance, which probably took place in the high school gym.

  18. The only traffic jam your town ever experienced was during the annual tractor parade.

  19. The school secretary assembled a list with the details of all the graduation parties so everyone knew when to be where.

  20. People gave directions by referring to the only stoplight in town.

  21. You went to school with kids from eight other tiny towns.

  22. It was cool to hang out with or date someone from a neighboring school, except during football season when they were considered enemies.

  23. If you weren’t at church, concerned churchgoers would go out of their way to find out if you were okay.

  24. When you are back in town to visit, no one has to ask you where you live now or what you do because they keep up on every detail of your life thanks to all your relatives who still live there.

  25. When people ask you where you are from, you sort of mumble your tiny town’s name and then automatically tell them what larger town it is near. If they look confused, you just give up and tell them the nearest metro (even if it is an hour or more away).

There is a lot to be said for growing up in a small town. While this list is an overview of my personal experiences and observations in my hometown, I’m sure you can relate to many of them if you grew up in a small town.

What’s missing from the list? Comment below with things that came to mind as you were reading. This list is endless, so comment away!

Your comments make my day!

308 comments

  1. Betsy

    I’m also a small town Iowa girl, and my hometown has about 250-300 people in it. I graduated with a class of 38, only about 9 of us were from my hometown, and 6 out of those 9 lived in the country on a farm. I now live in the “HUGE” Quad Cities and am sometimes desperate for that small town life, especially for raising my children. My husband is from, what to me, is a large town with the population of 8500, and he still doesn’t understand real small town living. The greatest thing about coming from a small town is the pride that comes with it and knowing that it will always be home. I loved it then, love it still and miss it like crazy.

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  3. Wendy

    The small dairy town in California that I grew up in would be a “city” Iowa, but it shares some of these features. My mother could leave us at the gas station for the owner to “baby sit” while she went into the grocery store. And there were hitching posts downtown because horses were not uncommon as another form transportation.

    • That’s a great story! Business owners babysitting you kids while you shop- love it!

  4. Whitney

    When your neighbor says “I saw your shed light on and turned it off for you…”

    Most directions go something like this “take a left by Tohnsons old home (they haven’t lived there for 20 years) and then go up the road by the old bean field, and then go towards where smiths have that open chunk of land but be carful because there is a big pothole on the dirt road where the Taylor’s truck got stuck in the mud a few years ago.”

    Its always we’re going over to town (the closest town that has 5,000 people instead of 400) and up to the other small town and down to another small town…

    Not only knowing everybody in town but also knowing their schedule… I love it!

    • emilylcounts

      Neighbors turning lights off for you – love it! Thanks for visiting my blog, Whitney.

  5. When you give directions by referencing someone’s property (usually a farm).

  6. Its a small town when the weekly newspaper prints obituaries on the front page or there is only enough news and advertising for 5 pages. Yup, page 6 is blank.

  7. only one traffic light, one bank, one pharmacy (for a while they didn’t have one so they had to drive to another town), one grocery store, Most people drive out of town for work . that meant traveling snowy roads in the country (that didn’t get plowed), one gas station in the 70′s i think they have 2 now . in the 90′s they got have fast food. , burger king

  8. Jamie Chipman

    Playing frisbee in the middle of Main street with your friends at midnight….while the cop kept score!! Fun times, but I was ready to get out….

  9. You never worry “if” you will make the team. Everyone has to make the team just to have enough people for a team.

    • emilylcounts

      Great point! Everyone has to be in everything to make it all go. My big-city friends are always shocked to hear how many activities I was involved in.

  10. Clint Brill

    Many of us started driving to school when we were 15 and the school parking lot would look like a muscle machine car show if you saw it today. Every school play you tried out for would guarantee you a part and you would letter in any sport you went out for.

    • So true, if you wanted to participate no one would stop you. Thanks for visiting!

  11. Kevin Christensen

    So, small town lovers, who still live in a small town – When was the last time you did any of these, without having to fly or drive several hours?: Went to the opera, saw a professional orchestra perform, Been to a broadway musical, saw a real play with real actors – not a high school play, been to an art museam, been to a museam of scince and history, Been to a restuarant – not a ‘grandma’s kitchen’ diner, gone out to see a professional jazz band play at a bar, been to a concert featuring a national touring artist, been to a gay bar, been to a fetish party, gone to a swingers club, been to a professional sports game, gone to an open mic poetry slam at a coffee house, gone to a black tie ball or dinner, gone to an art show at a gallery, went to a sushi bar, gotten a tattoo at a tattoo shop, gone to a strip club, or seen a 3D movie in an IMAX theatre. I live a ten to 20 minute drive from all of these things and thank my lucky stars every day that I live in a big city. – former small town resident -

    • Jill B

      Kevin ~ Isn’t it wonderful there are options and choices for everyone?

      My husband and I could earn more money in a larger town, in another state, etc. We chose to give our children a “small town experience” because we knew what to expect from the education system, and the local youth services programs. Also they could explore more things within school — athletics, music, speech, fine arts, etc. — without having to choose one over the others.

      There are trade-offs. We’ve also lived in San Antonio, the greater Saint Louis area and Springfield, IL. Mostly the things we miss are the 24-hour grocery stores and a few chain restaurants! (Oh, and acting in a community theater on a regular basis!) While we lived in the metropolitan areas, our finances and time commitments did not allow us to take advantage of the many things you mentioned. So while we *lived* closer, it didn’t mean we experienced any of these things more. PLUS, it takes just as much or more driving to get around in metro areas. With traffic our 8-10 mile trip took 20 minutes.

      Currently we live within two hours of two distinct metropolitan areas that offer all you listed and more. Yes, we have to drive to experience the cultural events, but that’s just part of the planning process. It doesn’t diminish the “treat” of enjoying those things.

      Ironically, in my current “small town” I am also just 20-25 minutes drive from a bigger city/town that offers professional hockey, multiple tattoo shops, quality museums, excellent major chain (and non-chain) restaurants and two different colleges that bring in touring groups for concerts, plays, and other performances. And some of us do have “black tie” events in the rural areas — and no, I’m not just counting the formal dances at the high schools. :-)

      Of the things on your list, I cannot speak to the availability of fetish parties, swingers clubs and/or gay bars. I know we’re within that same 20-25 minutes of an adult bookstore — I imagine they might be able to assist with locating the other venues. And there’s always the internet.

      Reading between the lines, I can sense part of what you’re saying is that smaller towns are less compatible to LGBT individuals. Sadly this is probably still true in many small towns, however it’s not true of ALL small towns. Even smaller communities have evolved over the decades. (Yes, I have LGBT friends who live in our small town.)

      Now that our children are in college, my husband and I are considering re-locating to one of those metropolitan areas. And yet, we have strong friendships with many friends. That’s part of what makes it a tough decision. But isn’t it great to have choices?

      You’ve chosen the size of community that best suits your personal needs and desires. Some of us have experiences both extremes, and have chosen to return to the “small town” experience — at least for a time. We’re not culturally inept or insensitive; we’ve just made informed choices that allow us to honor our personal values.

  12. How about a full service gas station. They filled your tank, checked your oil, and checked your tire pressure and you never had to leave the car. Also, when driving down the street, who ever you passed by would wave at you.

  13. Kim Pfeffer

    The best part about living in a small town you go to the store for milk which is a 5 minute trip and you and up there for an hour cuz everybody is stopping to talk to you!! Love living in a small town. Wouldn’t give it up for the big city EVER!!!!!!

  14. Jody

    So many people said that you don’t lock your cars–That is not true! You always locked them during zucchini season or you ended up with a backseat full of green squash.

  15. KATHY mORTENSEN

    We lived in a small Iowa town of 300 or so. I always knew if the boys got in trouble because someone would call me or my husband. Sometimes it was even before they got home. We did not worry about the kids getting taken or hurt. They played all day. Came home when the town siren went off at 12 noon or 6 o’clock. I know my kids felt small town life was boring but now they have kids of their own and wish they could let them run and play like they did.

  16. KATHY mORTENSEN

    You know you live in a small town when you dial the wrong number and talk for a 1/2 hour.

    • Josie DeWalt

      How funny. I sure do miss the good ole days in my hometown of about 1,000 people…now I’m in Houston, Texas

  17. Mandy

    Every year at Halloween all the kids in town showed up for a bonfire at the four way stop in town. Police didn’t care. They were there warming their hands by the fire shooting the shit as well. :)

    • Mandy

      Or sitting at home waiting to give the last trick or treater a homemade popcorn ball.

  18. AuntieM04

    You know you live in a small town when the fire whistle blows, and your dad says, “let’s go see where they’re going,” and we follow the fire trucks.

  19. The city (if you can call it that) It was about 5,000, when I grew up. There was anything you wanted, was able to be bought right here in town. Now, we need something and we end up going to Great Bend to find it, or go to Salina, when I grew up it wasn’t such a small town.

  20. Dan Baltz

    Fun on Friday night was driving the circuit. Tastee Freeze, Dairy Queen, and Dairy Center. You always knew where everyone was, but you went cruising the circuit to impress the girls or make guys jealous with your new girlfriend! Drag racing was arranged when the spot was picked and everyone showed up to watch. Winner had bragging rights until a new winner took over. Everyone worked on their hot rods all week to win bragging rights from the old winner!

  21. Margo

    Small town police news is fun! “Two men had an altercation over a cupcake” ” Please return the dish towel missing from my clothes line” I have the paper to prove it and it was just last year!

    • Kim

      Love this list! I live ‘in the country’ now but really miss living in town!

  22. You walk into the gas station and they call you by name and tell you what your total is before you get what you went there to get and you always have the exact change cause you already know what the price is gonna be.

  23. Liisa

    Back door was always unlocked (usually there wasn’t a working lock). Keys were left in the car in case someone needed it. We only needed to dial 5 numbers to make a phone call and the first one was always 2. In Michigan our right hand is a map, so even when there was no city within an hour, we just pointed to the spot on our hand where we lived to show home. Still do.

  24. liz

    When you didnt want to the gas stations to buy beer because the cashier or someone in there would tell your parents.

  25. Mer;e

    When you do something stupid and get put in jail, then the sheriff comes and tells you to come out and have supper with his family.

  26. Ellen Burton

    When the UPS driver delivers items to the cars or places of work of people who live outside of town. Saves everyone time!

  27. brenda

    when you are at a sporting event and you forgot to turn off the light, you call the neighbor and they know where the key is to the garage door ( if its even locked), turn off the lights, feed the chickens and collect eggs for you while they are there.

    • Jill B

      I’ve had to call a good friend to turn off my curling iron. And to drive by to see if any Christmas packages had been delivered — then just set those inside the front door.

    • emilylcounts

      It’s always good to make friends with your neighbors! Collecting eggs and everything, my goodness you have some friendly people in your town.

  28. Ron Wiltse

    When you are twenty and haven’t been back since you were 16 and you stop at the first house with a light and knock on the door, and before you can say a word, the nice lady says, “You’re Bud’s boy and your Grandmother sold the farm and moved to town and you don’t know where her house is.” Then grabs the phone and says, “Lena, guess who’s in my living room!” That’s when you know you’re back in the old home town.

  29. You know your town was really small when the Welcome and Farewell signs were on the same post

  30. nancy dalton

    When there was a death in your family, everyone in town brought food– cans of coffee, homemade cakes and bars and hams that latest for weeks.

  31. sfern

    I am originally from WI, but went to college in a NW Iowa small town (Decorah). I now live in Charlotte, NC…and I love going back to the Midwest to visit! We go back for 2 weeks every summer and we swing through a good portion of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and WI corn country during the drive. It is important for our kids to see farms and rural areas because they sure don’t see it during the hustle and bustle of our daily lives in the city. We’re trying to show them that there are many options for places to live–and you can be happy at any of them!

    • Jill B

      Decorah is NE Iowa — our daughter is a Norseman, but her dad and I are Wartburg Knights. (FYI to others: BIG Rival Lutheran Colleges)

      My parents still live just 35 minutes south of Decorah — the main reason (as I repeatedly told my daughter) why Decorah was *not* one of my college options. When Grandpa & Grandma visited her, they took her to Walmart for supplies before taking her back to her dorm. She said:
      “I swear, while shopping we stopped six different times to talk to people who knew them!” My response: “And that’s why I didn’t go to Luther.” :-)
      Gotta love small towns!

      • emilylcounts

        Good to hear from a fellow Knight-be orange! What town are your parents from, it sounds like they might be close to my parents home in Hawkeye.

      • Jill B

        Oh, Emily…. Yes, very close to Hawkeye — and most especially have YEARS of memories of Hauth Park. LOL

        I bet if I tell you my maiden name is Bowden it will answer all other questions. :-)

        So we don’t bore people here, please look for me on FB and connect that way.

  32. Dave

    When the school you graduated from is a K-12 school all in one building. And you don’t have football team.

  33. fred

    You can order flowers for your moms birthday and the florist knows to takes them to the hospital so the cook can drop them off on her way home.

  34. Les Garbe

    You know you live in a small town when the welcome sign reads population, unincorporated.

  35. MY MOM HATED IT WHEN THE CAR WOULD BUZZ IF SHE LEFT THE KEYS IN THE IGNITION SO SHE WOULD PULL THE KEY OUT AND THROW THEM ON THE DASHBOARD

  36. MY FAMILY KNOWS WHEN TO EXPECT US BECAUSE SOMEONE 200 MILES AWAY CALLED AND OTHER FRIENDS OR RELATIVES KEPT THEM POSTED AS WE GOT CLOSER

  37. Jean

    The highlight of the day was when dad said “lets go for a ride to look for deer”.

    • Jill B

      My parents would do that too — on the way to a favorite restaurant in a neighboring small town. :-)

  38. sarah

    Your mailman was also the sheriff, soccer ref, basketball coach, and a parent of one of your best friends!

  39. Kelsey

    Most of your teachers have been to your house because they are friends with your parents and went to school with them

  40. small town guy

    Opening day of ____ hunting season was an official reason to be late for school. Everyone had a rifle/shotgun in their truck. The principal would help you skin your deer so you could get to class sooner.

  41. Going to a Two room school house that served 1st thru 8th grade,with two teachers and the local post office housed the jail in the back…LOL

  42. Forest Hempen

    You don’t lock your car. In fact, you leave the keys in the ignition in case anyone needs your can in an emergency.

    You give directions via non-existent landmarks. “After about two miles, turn left where the dime store used to be.”

    • emilylcounts

      Haha, my dad always told us to leave our keys in the car and have a half tank of gas in case of an emergency.

  43. kim

    If your local grocer delivered your grandparents groceries, put them away and took out their garbage….etc….

  44. As a child in a small town every weekend was filled with play from all over town. We would ride bikes to everyone’s homes, roller skate etc. Our only rule was to be home by the time the street lights came on. I also appreciated the go to the store to pick up cigarettes for my parents reply above.

  45. Wildcats

    When you have a date with the girl in the next town over and by Monday when you have school every one knows about it.

  46. Beth

    You can park down the center of Main Street and the town cop was shared by 3 other small towns.

  47. Cindy

    Your parents sent you to the store with a note to give the store clerk when you were 10 years old to bring back cigarettes. And they gave them to you!

  48. Elliot

    Growing up in a small town in Wisconsin, the only traffic jam was when cows crossed the road. Where all my neighbors were farmers and we all shared tractors and other farm equipment. And I remember shooting a big buck and driving it downain street to show it off. And the local gas station would keep a tab for my dad for me every time I filled up! I miss that simple life soo much!

  49. I remember when the local paper, published once a week, would announce whose house the euchre club would meet at, and who played what. My grandmother would always look for her name in the paper

  50. Rich Sassaman

    You don’t need to use turn signals when driving, because as soon as you leave your driveway everyone knows where you’re going.

  51. Revoluzie

    when i was in a small town in minnesota for a foreign exchange at the age of 16, i found it VERY strange that the people took the car to drive around. just drive around. for hours. i had never seen this before :) maybe this relates to small town boredom too.

  52. Carrie

    This is so good .Many memories brought back to mind, My husband and I were both raised in a small town but twenty miles a part. We still live in a small town and and plan on staying where we are. Things have changed a lot over the years, but the small town charm and friendliness is still here. In times of sorrow or joy the people are there to help as we are all family.

  53. Rebecca

    If you were caught doing something you shouldn’t have been you were disciplined twice. Once by your friends parent and again when you got home. Also, you were in much less trouble at home if you confessed before your own parents learned about it from the neighbors!

    Would not have changed it for the world.

  54. Loren Weaver

    The highway signs that say “Entering Tiny Town” and “Leaving Tiny Town” are on the same pole.

  55. Matt

    You could ride your bike all over town but had to be home when the street lights came on.

  56. herbert

    you start dating someone friday night and everyone knows about it monday

  57. Kristi

    The UPS driver decides to save the trip to your farm and puts your package in the back of your truck -he doesn’t know you sold your truck, but the guy who bought it brings it to you anyway!

  58. lol! I have a couple: I often walked through town with my rifle or shotgun to go hunting on the other side of town. Never thought a thing about it. I started working in a store at age 12, and once forgot to cash my check, so, as I walked through town to go hunting, I stopped to deposit my check in the bank (I did break down my shot gun before going into the bank). When I was older, I once wrote a check (that was accepted) on a napkin. And once, visiting a nearby city, a friend stumbled and fell through a plate glass window in front of a bar. The owner came charging out, claiming we were fighting (we were not), and called the police. I offered to write a check to cover the damages–but the bar owner did not want to accept it. I called my banker at home (11:30 p.m. on a Friday night) and had him verify that the check was good. The money was not currently in my account, but, he knew it would be in the morning!
    My son had the same Drama teacher I had. They did a play we did when I was in school, and they gave him the same part I had 25 years earlier! The local paper had a big write up about it!
    Someone we knew (NOT me!!) had a habit of capturing live skunks, tying them so they could not spray, and putting them in the middle of town. When the local law officer tried to move or free the skunk, it ALWAYS sprayed, and lingered for couple days on Main street.

  59. Kara

    Here’s another one for you: my town has it’s own newspaper – there’s not much to it of course, but it does have the “personals” section which ladies from the community write weekly detailing who visited whom, those who served in the church worship service -even what hyms were sung. It’s a hoot – especially since I now live in metro Atlanta!

  60. cj69

    :) Stores were actually CLOSED on Sunday!

  61. Sara

    The town only had one cop and he never stopped when you were doing something wrong – he would just call your parents to tell them what you were doing because knew it would be worse at home than what he could do; unless of course you were not from his town.

  62. Julie

    If a cop stopped you for being out after curfew (Who knew curfew even existed?!), he followed you home, not to make sure that you got there, but to chit-chat with your father, because he knew he’d be up if you were out.

  63. Warren

    My graduating class was 32….16 boys, 16 girls. You know you’re from a small town when you give the one-hand wave from the steering wheel when meeting an oncoming car.

    • Madison Lynn Owens

      My sister is graduating this year amd she is I a class of ten
      When we first moved here the graduating class was 4 with 5 in the class. It is only a town of about 300 people.

  64. angela

    When “grounded from driving the car”….you ride your horse to town, to your friend’s house, etc instead.

  65. Jourdan

    I love this… If You drank from the hose instead of bottled water growing up, all the kids in your grade work on the same big farm, your school is surrounded by corn fields, neighbor hood kids practically became your siblings, your backyard often became the neighborhood mudpit! And many more!

  66. In high school all the boys brought their shotguns and rifles so they could hunt on the way to and from school – No one thought a thing about it.

  67. All I needed was a note from my mom in order to purchase ammunition from the (Coast to Coast) hardware store. I was 12.

  68. You might be from a small town if…by the time you were in 1st grade, your mom let you walk anywhere in town by yourself, your friends randomly showed up at your house when they got bored (and vice versa), and the only chain store in town was the IGA. Also, going to the dollar/hardware store was an exciting treat, and you and your classmates frequently discussed how amazing it was that the class above you had 22 students – the biggest class size in school!

  69. Bridget

    You didn’t have to call ahead to go visit someone. Meals were breakfast,dinner and supper.

  70. Chaney Hoskinson

    Ii love these…but I have a great one – the first year
    I took my son trick-or-treating – I received just as much candy as he did – I was 18. My husband was totally baffled…lol

  71. Patty hinds

    My Parents never had to wait up for me after dates, because if I was late the neighbors would tell.

  72. gary

    I stole this from some other list; nobody uses their turn signal because everyone knows where you are going anyway

  73. Alex

    Your parents knew about anything that happened (good or bad) at school before you got home because they heard it from someone in town.

  74. Jim Sears

    As kids, we’d leave the house in the morning to go ride out bikes around town. Mom would never know where we were (and didn’t worry about us). When the street lights came on, we knew it was time to go home for supper. That’s right. SUPPER. Not dinner. We had dinner at noon.

    • Joe

      If thats the case, when did you eat lunch?

      • Jim

        Never heard of lunch until I started to school.

      • David

        Lunch was something you ate when you got home from school before going out to do the chores.

      • Carol

        Or a lunch was packed and taken out to the field when the men were working.

      • Donna

        Lunch was a “light” meal eaten in the summer about 4 pm because you worked hard and didn’t eat supper until it got dark… 9 or 10 pm.

      • Michele

        lunch was coffee time at 9am and 3pm

      • Jill B

        My husband’s Grandmother used to serve Breakfast – lunch – Dinner – lunch – Supper and, if desired, lunch. :-)

    • I love that! I have always called it supper. Dinner was at noon, where we listened to Paul Harvey, and lunch was what you had during the afternoon & morning breaks at work!

      • Connie

        Everyone looks at me funny when I call the noon meal dinner or the night meal supper

  75. The library is an 8′x10′ building that is open from 2-3pm on Fridays and people are in an uproar about getting the one gravel road into town paved because it might encourage too many visitors.

  76. Raina

    I grew up where the nearest gas station and grocery store were half an hour drive away and the nearest walmart or micky D’s was and hour and a half or more away. Kids would actually drive themselves to driver’s Ed class. We didn’t have a stop light in any of the surrounding towns so we always referred to names of houses, pastures, fields, trees, or rocks for directions. My husband grew up in a big metropolis and doesn’t understand how anyone could survive like that but I miss that life so much.

    • That life is still here! It’s a lot cheaper to live in rural communities and there’s such a sense of connection. We still have drive your tractor to school day, a curfew whistle, still eat supper, and people know each other and get involved in the community. My daughter’s graduating class of 2015 has 60 kids, and the play rehearsals are always in the evening because half the cast have sports after school. Simple life, rich and connected. There’s lots of space out here, and we welcome newcomers! Just be aware you will probably carry that title for a couple generations…

      • emilylcounts

        It is so true that everyone in a small town has to get involved to make it all go. And kids are involved in everything, so you can’t hold practices simultaneously. My class had 80 kids and I loved it – just the right size to know everyone and really get involved.

  77. Kim Finney

    You can walk home at night and feel completely safe!! I moved back home after college and married a man from my hometown and we have a child now and I love knowing that my kid will be safe and raised around good people!

  78. I can related to so many of these and it’s funny because even though I’m in college now whenever I come home, the cashiers at the stores will remember because of my parents and ask how school is going. It’s kind of a nice welcoming after being in a place where you don’t know anyone. Great post!

    • Jill B

      When I was first married I used to make sure to “accidentally” mention my maiden name when back home. Now I realize it was probably never necessary. They not only know my married name, but my husband AND my children’s details, too. :-)

  79. Louise Mattice

    I must have grown up with the dinosaurs! I lived in a beautiful some town where everyone pretty much knew to much! No all in one stores all were separate. but by High 3 neighboring towns none of whom had enough for their own school built with our town a Regional HS .Yet some how no one took into account how many children were born in 1947……………..Home is where your shoes go under the bed!

  80. Most of the people who graduated high school never went to college, had kids straight out of high school and never moved very far away from the small town dumps they grew up in. What else? Oh, the educations really weren’t very good as the school cared more about football than geometry or physics. Some of these are true but small town life came with a whole host of really undesirable qualities that far outweigh the pluses and I like the author grew up in NE Iowa also.

    • Marcy

      Highly disagree with the post above. There is a policy in place that is strictly followed in small schools because the teachers actually care about each individual student. So instead of either only focusing on sports or on academics you had to accomplish both at a high level in order to compete. Plus when you go to a really small school you are in everything the school has to offer otherwise there wouldn’t be enough people to run the program.

      • I agree with you Marcy, I loved my growing up years in a small town. I have lived in many large cities since and raised my own children in large cities and realize they missed so much by not being near relatives, Yes, they had more advantages in some areas but I don’t think I would trade my being raised in a small town to their big city any day.

      • plutosdad

        funny , my wife was a substitute teacher in a small town in Texas and caught hell for giving football players bad grades, even though the parents themselves wanted their children to get the bad grade so they’d learn a lesson. The lesson was, small town schools in Texas and some other states want the big kids to play football and stay ignorant and don’t give a darn if they are completely uneducated.

      • Arlis

        I beg to differ although there are policies: they are not always followed. When my daughter was in school just 10 years ago, she was receiving a failing grade, but before the end of the week it was a low C, she did not do anything to improve her grade. I made her quit basketball because of this. Since she was not in basketball she could only get a D in PE unless she did a bunch of extra credit reports. If you were not in basketball, track or etc. you had to sit on bleachers while the team practiced, and did not get credit for participation. Small town Kansas but besides a few perks I still would not trade for a metropolitan any time.

    • Sharon

      What? Almost all the kids around my small town go to college, most earning advanced degrees.

      • Sara

        I agree Sharon, I grew up in a town of 309 (at the time) and its still not at 400. My graduating class had 32 and at least 10 of them make 85k plus or better and most of us either went to college or military or both

    • TroyMN

      I’m sorry you had such a bad experience; I went to a small town and it was not at all what you describe. Our school (SW Minnesota, town pop. 2500) was one of the top schools in the state, most of my graduating class went to college, whether vocational, community, or state, and many of the classmates (approx. 100/291) I’ve kept in touch with are doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc. I think teachers have more dedication to their students in the small towns bc they get to know them and their family, personally. I even remember a neighborhood we called “pill hill” where all the doctors and teachers lived (aka they were the richer people in town). Oh, this was less than 20 years ago. :-)

      • Arlis

        LOL brings back memories snob hill only because a few were snobs though but our whole schools amounted to 200 students altogether, high, JR, and grade. But as grown I come to realize the snobs were not snobs once you got to know many of them

    • Our small town’s school has received a bronze star rating from Newsweek for years. I have an advanced degree, and so do many others who live here. However, there are many who don’t. Like all these people who raise your food. Not all advanced wisdom is determined by sitting in a classroom long enough to earn a few letters behind your name. Some of the wisest and smartest people I know learned from apprenticing and living life, not from reading about it! At least in my small town, we honor the person for who they are and what they accomplish. Both the kid who made it to international science fair and the kid who was amazing with a welder, the one with an amazing voice and the one who has a consistent 4.0, and yes, the teams as smell. Why not celebrate what you do well? But the best part about living in a small town is you can co-create it, if you aren’t happy with something, you have a voice and a mind and the hands to do the work.

  81. Audrey Ewers

    I joined the Air Force and explaining where I lived was getting a little frustrating, but if I mentioned that I lived near Jackpot Junction Casino people knew where that was!

  82. Rhonda

    As kids, we always knew where to go if in need. Every woman in our small town looked out for each others kids. Get into trouble though, your mother was waiting for you when you got home

    • Jack

      What about every man? They don’t look out for each other’s kids?

      • I didn’t have a father and my mother worked once I started school, I was the youngest. But when I was growing up if there was a father he worked and the mother stayed home, I believe that is why the reference to mothers watching out for every ones children was made.

  83. Jolene

    You go home after 15 years and need gas at the local station when you realize that you don’t have cash and they don’t accept credit cards you ask if you can write an out of town check. The clerk looks at you curiously and you say, “I was a (maiden name)” and the light turns on in their eyes and the response is, “OH! Of course you are! Yes, that is no problem!”

  84. Sara

    My small town (population 550) only had 2 bars, a post office and a cemetery. Kids could buy bazooka gum at the bar for 5 cents a piece. Every kid had walked the tracks to sneak in the Sportsmens club to swim. Which was a good 2 mile walk on the tracks so we became experts at walking the rail. It was time to come home when mom rang the cow bell. We borrowed ketchup, flour, etc from the neighbors. A man in town sold fresh eggs. We didn’t have stop lights, just a few stop signs. If an outsider coming through needed directions we asked who they were looking for because that was easier than memorizing the names of the roads, which most were gravel back than. You knew just about everyone burried in the cemetery. On Halloween you hit up every house. School was 8 miles away.

    • Sara, are you sure you didn’t grow up in my town?!?! I could have wrote your comment!

    • Mark

      In contrast, my HS graduating class had 550. And that was from the smaller of two available public HS. And 6 private (Catholic) HS’s were available (2 males only, 4 female only) All within 2 miles of my house.

  85. You can’t jump in mud puddles without your grandparents, your mom and your friends parents being told within .5 seconds of jumping. Also you would crush on someone and that summer have to find a new person to have a crush on because you saw him or her at a family reunion and well you dont roll that way!

  86. Clay

    When neighboring girl, a real sweetheart, walks straight in you hours to your bedroom and drags your sleepy sell out to go to work in the fields. Just makes you want to sleep in although I never did again :-)

  87. Nicole

    We didn’t have a stoplight but you pretty much hit the nail on the head. We were lucky to not have a bunch of tiny towns all joined in the school when I went there…. not the case any longer. 25 people in my graduating class and not only can I name them all but I know most of their birthdays 20 years later. Since I was the oldest child I was referred to as my mothers name in school and yes 5 of my high school teachers had also been her teacher! And sidewalks were for visitors… we walked and played in the streets all the time. No one was going to get hurt since other than main street traffic was a thing talked about in the movies.

  88. Tony

    I grew up near a town of 100 people the next closest town was 15 miles away and it had 300 the closest town with at least 1000 people was 1 hr away. Our closest walmart or town with at least 10000 people was 2 hours away. So i grew up in the extreme boonies and most of these are very accurate. Although parking in the middle of main street is missing and mail would still get tou your house with out the street address.

  89. Deb Kneisl

    When my oldest son was in early childhood education classes his teacher (not from our town)took him for a walk. He didn’t want to go so was putting up a fuss as they got about a block from home, I got two phone calls to inform me some “stranger” was trying to abduct my son.

    Also it’s nearly impossible to go for a walk for exercise because people stop to give you a ride or just to chat.

    I love my small town!

  90. Jackie H.

    The skating rink was in the basement of the bowling alley which was next to the public pool which was across from the city park. In middle school it was your social life every weekend then off to the pizza hut (the only restaurant in town and one block west of the park) which was open til midnight to wait for your ride, and if you were part of a couple you stopped off in the park to make out! No strangers to harm you or cops to bother you!

  91. tom meinders

    You forgot braking for squirrels.

  92. Tiffani

    To use the phone we had to patiently wait for the line to clear because we shared a party line with the lady on the corner who everyone knew as Mama Lu. Thus of course she kept the line hot with all the ladies from the community.

  93. amy Martinez

    We use to ride our bikes to town which was 7 tenths of a mile from town and turn in our glass pop bottles. Go to aunt Jody’s andget candy for a penny she would always give us alittle extra because we had a long ride home. Love my small town

  94. Deric

    You have a tire shop, two gas stations, a grocery store and two feed stores all in just two buildings

    • LOL… My (then) 11 yr old son once got frustrated about living in a small town- he tried to rent a R rated bloody war movie at the gas station/restaurant/feed store/video store and the clerk called him by name and said “Nope. Your parents wouldn’t approve – pick something else.”
      But it was all good a few months later when he and his cousins were playing in the culvert behind the hardware store and he fell and broke his arm – the store owner called Dad at his work (without needing to ask for a name, place or phone #) and splinted his arm before Dad even got there. I <3 small town folks… it really does take a village.

  95. Glenna Vinton

    Everyone knew that you were the new kid because you weren’t in their kindergarten class even if you were in the town since you were in 7th grade.
    People knew your business even before you knew your own.
    You can be walkin home and if someone pulls over asking if you want a ride you can take it because you know everyone and trust each other.
    The local gas station is the town hangout in the morning because the coffee is amazing.
    Only two entrances into town and both are covered by a railroad.
    More then half of the town works at the same job.
    The best food is in your local bar because you didn’t have a restauraunt.

  96. When everyone that knew you growing up acts like a relative when you bring a boyfriend home even if they aren’t. (I brought my now fiance to my hometown for the first time and all the men that were friends with my parents told him that he needed to marry me and to make it sooner rather than later.)

  97. If you speed on the way to school, your parents know even before you get home because someone called to tell them.

    • Tony

      Oh yeah that happened to me and my siblings a few times!

  98. Tina

    If you ride your bike outside “hollering distance” and strangers driving by tell you “Mom is yelling for you.”

  99. Mikki

    when your neighbor calls you at work noticing a truck pull up to your garage and they get out walking to the back yard (forgot to tell them workers were coming)

    • Mikki

      not to mention you let the workers work there whiles you are not home because everyone knows everyone

  100. OldFinn

    The 9 PM curfew was signaled by the town cop using the same fire siren that called the volunteer fire fighters to the fire hall.

  101. Jackalie Blue

    When you run your car into a ditch and walk to the nearest farmhouse for help and the farmer who opens the door says, you must be Jack’s kid – you have his nose.

    • Waubonaut

      . . . and then grabs his hat and coat and says “well, let’s get you out of that ditch and back home.” He pulls you out with his tractor and has called your parents to let them know why you are late before you arrive home.

  102. Danny

    You had to be home by the
    time the streetlights were on.

    You were grounded to the
    town boundary.

  103. Ahahahha, excellent! It is exactly that and even for me who come from a tiny town in Belgium!

  104. Kimber Hamm

    There was a tiny town I raised my children near even smaller than where I grew up. No school, no bar, just one store. In that store I could get parts for the tractor, a belt for a car, drop off mail, get a garden hose or canning jars. As and get bread, milk,eggs, feed for yhe ctitters ( chickens/ rabbits/ cat/dogs, etc… It was 4 miles from the farm 8 miles to any other small town and dead center of all 4 small towns. So it was extra special to those farmers in the middle like me. I miss that wish I were back in a small town we took care of and watched out for each other.

  105. Brian Eddy

    I grew up on a farm near Convoy, Ohio. I attended college in northwest Ohio, went on to medical school and eventually became a specialist. I served a fellowship in hematology and medical oncology in Pittsburgh. A few of the other trainees and attending physicians were from western Pennsylvania, but most were from New York City, Philadelphia or Washington, DC. They regarded Pittsburgh as a part of the primitive Midwest! The following is an actual conversation between myself and a mentoring oncologist who hailed from NYC:

    Mentor: Brian, you’re from Ohio, aren’t you?
    Brian: Yes, Dr. Meissler, I’m from Ohio.
    Mentor: Now, Cleveland… that’s in Ohio, isn’t it?
    Brian: Yes, Dr. Meissler, Cleveland is in Ohio.
    Mentor: So, then… you’re from Cleveland?
    Brian: No, Cleveland is in northeastern Ohio. Where I grew up is in western Ohio.
    Mentor: (obviously puzzled) I don’t understand.
    Brian: Where I grew up is… sort of half way between Dayton and Toledo.
    Mentor: Um… I don’t think I know about those places.
    Brian: Well, I guess you could also say that I’m from about half way between Cleveland and Chicago, but south of Detroit.
    Mentor: Oh…. (With his hand over his mouth, in visible dismay).

    • Tony

      That reminds me of a time I was talking to a guy in the portland airport who was from NYC and he was asking me where i was from. Being from rural north Central Nebraska i tried to explain where my hometown was (thankfully he was aware of where Nebraska was on the map) then i told him the town has 100 people, his jaw dropped! He could not even comprend that there could be a town out there with fewer people than the floor of his apt building!

      • Jenny

        I understand completely…anytime I explain to my friends where I live I tell them about 100 miles northwest of Omaha…they don’t understand no traffic lights and parking in the middle of main street that is 2 blocks long…had to take a picture and send it to them to make them believe it.

    • Mindi

      Lol! I actually have heard of Convoy but that’s because when I was in high school, we played Crestview in football playoffs (in case you remember it as well, i graduated from Marion Local high school). I have had much the same experience being from a tiny small town in western Ohio and often run into people who have not heard of Dayton and Toledo. Usually have to say “about 2 hours west of Columbus”

      Also would add to this list “when it takes an hour to get to the closest interstate.” When I brought my fiancé (now husband who’s a city kid) home the first time, he couldn’t understand how people lived so far away from the highway!

      • Julie

        We always hated Crestview, because our school was Crestwood, and whenever we saw Crestview come up on the school-closings, we would get so excited, only to be completely let down half a second later when we realized we’d misread it. And it seemed like those kids NEVER went to school! lol.

  106. Bev

    You could borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbor and you got a fresh plate of home baked cookies sent along with it.

    • Emily

      You never have to lock your car and nothing is ever missing from it, people even keep their keys in their unlocked car.

      • Dustin

        Unless zucchini are in season, then you lock it so no one fills your car with their surplus..

  107. callie f

    You Hatched Chickens In First Grade And Students Got To Take Them Home!

    • tori

      when even the 6th graders have open lunch. or when ur a graduating class of 8

  108. Kami

    When you people just show up to the chief of police house rather than calling the towns own emergency line!

  109. When your dog ran across the highway and the local police put the dog in the car and drove around waiting for you to get home so the dog did not have to recross the highway.

  110. Last night at teacher’s conferences 2 of my son’s teachers were teachers I had, and one was someone I knew from school.

    When someone asks who my Dad is if they don’t know him by name they know him by the business he used to run.

    You drive the same kind of truck, or maybe the same truck your Dad drove.

    If you buy a local used car people refer to who used to own it.

    People call me by my brother’s name once in a while, he passed away 30 years ago.

  111. Angela Rhodes

    If you’ve ever talked on a “party line”.

  112. Angela Rhodes

    Mom & Dad know you rode your bike on the wrong road before you even make it back home.

  113. Melinda

    When a business burns the whole town comes to watch.

    • Brenna Benedict

      When anything burns the whole town and the next two towns over come to watch

    • Nicole

      And they brought sandwiches and iced tea for the volunteer fire department.

  114. Travis Floyd

    To this day you can send a letter addressed to Grandma Brown (no actual street address or PO box) and it will still get to her!

    • Karen

      I once got a letter addressed to Mom, FF, Butternut…… LOL

  115. Josie DeWalt

    When there was a fire close by we’d all get in our cars to go watch the firemen put it out…

  116. LauriCNEKS

    You know you’re in a small town when you drive down the street and everybody knows where you’re going :)

  117. When the UPS driver had a package to deliver and your vehicle was in town (which was unlocked) he would just put it in the vehicle

  118. Melanee Crist

    You go out for a jog and everyone who drives past stops to ask if you need a ride.

  119. You don’t show up for blood drive at the American Legion and they call to see if everything is OK!!

  120. rebecca Schaffner

    When people ask where you live, you refer to it as “the old Robertson house” even though you have lived in it longer than the original occupants (the Robertsons) ever did!

    • Kathy Carter

      That is so true! 14 years later we still live in the Wagners old place.

  121. Becky

    -You knew it was FFA week and all of the farmers kids brought the tractors to school
    -You knew it was harvest season because at a home cross country meet it was car, car, tractor…car, car, tractor
    -When half of the kids were in the high school band and the school would be at 50% attendance because they were on the high school band trip
    -When a portion of the school (students and teachers) missed because it was the first day of deer hunting season
    -Each year, a particular teacher’s home was toilet papered and he did not care
    -Your coach would make you run punishment during practice because you got into trouble in their class or with another teacher and they found out about it within 5-10 minutes after it happend

  122. kathy

    My parents always knew I was in trouble and had the punishment figured out before I ever got home. Our town was only 4 blocks by 3 blocks.

  123. Christini Banini

    When you automatically wave at each car you pass while driving down the road.

  124. Alysse

    When you live in a town of 40 people, 5 streets, and the only businesses in that town are a bar and a salon, and you have to drive half an hour everyday to get to school.

    • Tony

      I can totally relate to that!

  125. John Foster

    Houses are referred to by who USED to live there.

  126. Merrisa

    The school got tired of all the absences on opening day of hunting season, so they decided to just start giving the day off.

  127. Jean

    The fire department drives the fire truck throughout the entire town celebrating Christmas. They hand out candy to the kids and a beer to the adults!
    Also, there is a siron that blows at 9:00 pm every night and the kids run home!

  128. I love this article! 8 friends on my facebook, all from the same small town as me, shared the same blog. Thanks for writing; these are almost all true for our small town! Now that I have moved to the city with my husband, it brings back wonderful memories! Congratulations on your blog success with such creative and heart warming entries like this one!

  129. People give directions based on the original owners of a property.. ie.. “go 2 miles down the dirt road, turn left at the old Soloman place, etc. Even if the Soloman’s haven’t resided on the property in 3 generations, lol.

  130. Paula McGowan

    You never knew the street address of where anything was or where anyone lived. You just knew where they lived and how to get there.

  131. Kevin

    The entire community truly celebrated the 4th of July, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day with heartfelt thanks, flags, and assemblies at school.

  132. Sue

    If you pass someone on the nearby highway, your mom knows you were speeding when you get home.

    • Cindy Tortel

      Ha, all true but we had no stop light …I never knew the street names cuz we used people or schools to give directions…never streets….and there was no WalMart or McDonalds when I was growing up….not around here anyway where near!

  133. Dayton McCauley

    Correction…there was no stoplight in your town…or in your county for that matter :P

  134. wahela

    My Mom grew up in a town of 100 people. And she couldn’t wait to get out of there. I went to that little town a few years ago and was standing in the convenience store and the cashier asked me why I (as stranger) was in town. I told her I was out at the cemetary where all the family is buried. So she, asked me who my family was, so I told her. And a little tiny shrunken little old lady behind me spoke up and said, “I remember Patty. Her Mom had an affair and left town in 1939.” LOL. I turned around and said, “Yes, she did.” It didn’t hurt me at all, but in the olden days, it bothered my Mom a lot.

    • Tony

      LOL now if that aint small town than i dont know what is!

  135. Mike

    when you give a stranger directions you use corn feild’s and oak trees as land marks instead of the roads name’s.

  136. Jennis

    If you did something wrong at someones house they paddled your butt and then when you got home you got it again.

  137. Alan Brutlag

    You recognize the voice of every wrong number.

    • wahela

      That happened to me a few days ago. A man called and asked about a property for sale. I told him, ” The real estate office ends in 44. My phone number ends in 46.” He thanked me and hung up. LOL

  138. If you check out a “questionable” book in the town’s library, the librarian says, “I don’t believe your mother would approve of this,” and puts the book back on the shelf! (I admit this was MANY years ago but the principle is still the same!)

  139. Can definitely relate to 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 18, (I’d say 20, but there weren’t any stop lights), 21, 22, 24, and 25. The other ones are really close, too, but just didn’t hit it on the nose. For example, no one would think twice if someone drove a tractor to school, but I don’t remember it happening. It was, however, perfectly acceptable to drive your snowmobile to school, and I know that happened a lot.

  140. If you done something wrong everyone in town know about it. You couldn’t run away from home because everyone in town knew your hiding places.

  141. There is likely a (tornado) siren or “whistle” that sounds daily at noon or six so people know when to leave the fields for meals.
    You know your postman personally and he leaves cards for birthdays and holidays. He also knows to hold your mail or give it to your neighbors when you are out of town without telling him you’re gone.
    Houses are referred to by who lives there not the house number.

  142. Austin Simons

    You can pick out one of the older teachers in your high school and chances are about 3/4 of the people in your town who are graduates had that teacher even if the person you are asking is 20 or 30 years older than you. They probably had a nick name for that teacher very similar to the one that you and your classmates used as well.

  143. You didn’t date a boy from town because they all new your big brothers

  144. melissa

    Random kids people knock once then enter and say my mom here,or other kids or can u borrow, or something similar. Lol

    • wahela

      Or knock and walk in to say, “Hi Mom!” And everybody uses the backdoor. Nobody uses the front door except for strangers or salespeople.

  145. john4291

    Schools close due to the county fair
    Kids drive their snowmobiles to school
    When you come home, you get hugs from the residents who all feel like family
    You celebrate “home land” traditions, such as sytten de mai, because the whole town is Norwegian – but no matter your ethnicity, you take part!
    It’s not unusual to find someone on your property looking for milk weed because they heard the monarch population was supposed to be a good one this year
    On your walk downtown to the post office, you get offered fresh baked cookies
    Main street is named “Main Street”

  146. Becca

    People you run into recognize you because of a random relative you somewhat resemble. When you introduce yourself, they ask which farmer was your dad (My dad and uncle were both farmers) and if your mom was the teacher or not.
    When you got in a small car accident on the way to school and were late to school because of it, the WHOLE school knew about it by the time you got there 20 minutes late because roughly half the school saw the accident on the way to school. Everyone you saw asked if you were okay, even if they weren’t in the same social group normally.

    • wahela

      Or when you have a car problem, its automatically towed to the Junior College auto mechanics class. They like to have practice vehicles. lol

  147. Sam

    You know everyone by first and last name, house, and vehicle.

  148. Jim Radtke

    You just tell them that it’s between here and there.

  149. Ashley

    When you get a speeding ticket in high school, your dad knows before you even get home because the cop has already called him. So has everyone who drove by you while you were pulled over.
    Also, when you leave school during ‘senior week’ during lunch (the one week a year when you’re allowed to eat at the local café for lunch) the old people having coffee at the café call the school to report the truants!

  150. scg12050

    When you’re parked downtown, you leave your keys on the dashboard in case someone needs to move your car

    • wahela

      In my town, when its really really cold in winter (in Iowa), everybody leaves their car unlocked and running while they run into the grocery store. Sometimes there are 10 or 20 cars all running in the parking lot. LOL

    • Sarah Beth

      We left keys in the ignition no matter what….except during the last week of school your senior year because your vehicles were likely to be moved without your knowledge of it. In my case they locked the gates to the football field with our cars in there lol

  151. Andrew

    Driver’s Ed was a formality. The instructor already knew which kids he could just throw the keys at and tell us which town to head for.
    In high school there was a designated vehicle parked across the street full of guns during hunting season to avoid those pesky ‘no weapons on school grounds’ laws.
    Cruising the loop meant driving to all the neighboring little towns to see what was going on. The whole town shut down on game day if any of the high school sports teams made it to the state tournament.
    The one cafe in town has a Thanksgiving meal for those that don’t have family nearby.
    You can identify your friend’s cars in the dark just by the lights.
    Local businesses leave the doors open if they run an errand during the day, just help yourself and write down what you took so you can pay the next time you stop in. There are 8 farm implement dealers closer than the nearest Wal-Mart.

  152. when your Uncle came into town from the big city everyone he meets tell him you must be (place sister or brother name here) brother which freaks him out.

  153. Tessa

    If your school goes to state in a sport the whole town goes down to watch.

  154. Hope Kleinwachter

    You got out of school early on Wed for religion class so you would be home in time for chores

  155. The beginning of Deer season was not only an acceptable excuse to miss school but also work. Hell alot of businesses closed for deer opener.

  156. Rhonda

    it was known during hunting season every guy had a bow and gun in their truck, dog boxes in the bed of the truck and NO ONE EVER BROKE OUT AND STARTED SHOOTING UP THE SCHOOL Imagine that while living in a small town!!!!

    • amen! my dad would ride the bus to school with his gun and go hunting and nothing bad ever happened! wow! :P

  157. Laura A. Lee / Hope Nurtured

    The only thing planned in school during opening hunting were movies since so many would be gone.

  158. The one prom a year was for seniors, juniors, and any sophomore lucky enough to be invited.

    Also, the high school and elementary school were in the same building.

    People you don’t recognize stop you in the grocery store/gas station/cafe/butcher shop to ask you how your parents and grandparents are doing, and then tell you how you did something cute that you don’t remember when you were (insert hand gesture) thiiiiiiiis tall.

    It isn’t unusual to see at least one row of snowmobiles in the school parking lot during the winter.

  159. Judy

    Our prom was junior/senior prom. The juniors hosted it for the seniors and voted on which freshman were the servers.
    We had a dairy and they delivered our milk to our porch.
    Our hometown newspaper doesn’t have current news. They have a section called “Pages from the Past” with little excerpts from previous papers from 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago.

  160. Street lights and whistles (the town whistle at 7am, noon, and 6pm) were the only time keepers you needed. The whistle blew at 6 for supper and time to go home when the street lights came on.

  161. Sue

    When I stranger walks into a bar everyone stops talking

  162. Cara

    Also……your boyfriend, who lived 15 min away, was long distance. So you had to get a calling card just to talk on the phone. :-)

  163. Danny

    You have a shoebox of mementos from all the 20 kids you went to all 12 years, (or more) of school with.

  164. Jill

    Our “town” as more farm animals than people, but we have a bar! Neighborhood kids are all our kids some of them eat supper more at our house than home and if you see them doing something wrong you punish them if their parents are not there to do it themselves……I grew up in a town of 300 and now live in a town that has 12 houses….I can relate…

  165. -Boyfriends and girlfriends were almost always circulating. All of your friends date the same guy/girl you end up dating a year later.
    -You rarely had to call a carpenter, plumber, etc because you were neighbors/related/friends with one.
    -The graveyards are as big as a one-car garage.
    -You couldn’t get away with anything without someone seeing or hearing about it…and then someone would call your parents.
    -You were on a first name basis with the law enforcement and the firefighters…all whom were volunteers or part-time.
    -Vacations meant going on hunting trips and monthly shopping trips to the city.
    -Your doctor and dentist were in the same building…renovated from a house into a practice.
    -If you had a yard/garage sale,you counted on your whole town showing up.
    -Everyone showed up the the funerals. Everyone.

  166. s

    27 kids in my graduating class. 7 of which were girls.
    no stop light in town.
    my best friend from elementary school is now married with a kid at 22, and owns the popular town gas station.
    there are 7 churches for 850 people and 1 bar.
    300 kids in a pre k-12 school.
    my teachers taught my classmate’s parents and aunts and uncles.
    we were begged to go out for sports so there were actually teams.
    the quarterback as the choir star, main part in the play, band geek, and homecoming king.
    i made varsity in 9th grade because and every year after, without try outs.

  167. Nicole Espland

    If someone new moves into town, you ask where they live and after hearing the address, your response is, “oh, you mean the old Smith house.” Even though the Smith’s haven’t lived there in 50 years!

  168. *If you ran a red light or got a speeding ticket, your dad knew about it before you got home!
    *No one knows the real name of a business because they’re always called by the business it was when you were little.
    *People in the country didn’t need addresses, street signs, etc, you just say “the old Smith place” and everyone knew where it was.
    *You didn’t not only date because you grew up together, but because you really were related to everyone in your class.
    *If you got home and your trailer or truck or tractor was missing, you didn’t panic because you knew a neighbor or friend family member had borrowed it! How? Easy, the keys were left in it.
    *You lined up at the swimming pool at 12:45 everyday, swam until the pool closed for supper, played at the park for an hour, then went back to the pool until it closed. Of course you all rode your bikes to & from the pool… unless you were LUCKY like us. We could get on the railroad track about a block from our house and walk it all the way to the pool.
    *You knew when the trains ran through town because it seemed like everyone had one really close to their house. We t pennies on the track, wait until the train passed then go look for your smashed penny.
    *You didn’t get in trouble for coming home late or missing dinner or supper because your parents knew you were safe and new someone’s parents would feed you.
    *You went to school with most of your classmates from kindergarten to senior year.

    Living in a small town is/was the BEST! Knowing everyone in town… having four and five generations in town. The worst thing though is knowing everyone in town…you can’t hide anything… you can’t do anything wrong because everyone will know about it… there are eyes and ears everywhere. My grandparents had party line so everyone would listen into each other’s phone calls! Even though we lived in a small “country” town, my grandpa always called us “them #$%£ city kids” because we weren’t up at the crack of dawn like farm people were… he was so awesome!

  169. Sarah Jane Boyer

    Grew up in a town of 100 people and have major problems with the list.

    1. What grocery store?
    9. Unless you’re the “weird family” that moved in and is related to no one. And you’ve lived there since birth.
    12. What drivers ed course? I’ve been driving since I was 7.
    13. What musical? If there was a musical, you actually might have fit in during high school.
    14. Why would you take the tractor to school? Your dad needs it while you’re there!
    15. What newspaper? The “local” paper is from the town over.
    19. Separate graduation parties? You all shared one in the church’s basement!
    20. What stop light? There are only 4 stop signs in the whole town.
    22. Neighbouring schools were too far away. Your school was already 30 minutes away.

    Until you have only 5 people from your town in your graduating class, you don’t know what small town is.

    • You perfectly describe the town that I currently live in. We are the “weird family” that moved in and is related to no one. All the kids drive by the time they are 10 (but they still take drivers’ ed because of the state laws). Most parents would rather have their kids drive the truck to school since the tractors are more difficult to replace in case of accident. No stop lights – just a couple of stop signs . . . And my kid goes to school in the next town over – she is the only one from our town in her class – and it is 30 miles from home.

      • Jill B

        I grew up in a small town, but we currently live in another one — and are the “unrelated strangers” that moved to town. Though we’ve been here 9+ years, it’s not yet “our house” — it’s still the Anderson Home aka “The Jehovah Witness house.” ~~ Our last name is the same as a family that owned a pharmacy in the 40s & 50s. Always funny when someone tries to attach us into that family tree. :-)

  170. peatri-moma@hotmail.com

    When disasters happen everyone comes together to help out! Whether it was to help with a persons medical bill and needs after a huge accident or sharing their home when someones house got destroyed by a tornado.

  171. Jessica Jordal

    Shops still close on Sundays because the owners and workers are all at church

    • jes

      This is my favorite comment. I grew up in a small town, now I am raising my children in a neighboring town and this still happens! Love it!

  172. I love that in our town the Schwans man would just stop by the businesses during the day to take your order and then drop your order off in your freezer so you didn’t have to leave work. And for no extra charge!

  173. Sheryl Arne

    Driving down the main avenue your arm would be tired from waving because everyone you passed, you knew! Loved this part.

  174. kim

    The mom en pop shops. Which now days are disappearing from our small towns. Remember Ben Franklin dime store. Tootie rolls were only a penny.

  175. ed

    You are walking for exercise and people stop and offer you a ride.

  176. Kayla

    You most likly made the newspaper at least 20 times by the time you graduate highschool because evey small event, game, or town get together, was in the paper and you attend them all for something to do. Also you are not able to make it out of any store with out adding 10 minnutes to your trip because you are garanteed to run into someone you know and needed to tell them something.

  177. Great life in small town…We found a lot of love, affiliations etc…!
    You never ever feel lonely there. No doubt amazing post and your thoughts to explain it..!
    Have a loving time in life either grow in small or big town ;-) ;-)
    Cheers
    Tahir

  178. sharon johnson

    The whistle blew at dinner (noon) and supper time.

  179. David

    A married woman will tell you who she “used to be” (her maiden name) when introducing herself. Then you can move on to “Oh, when did you graduate, and are you related to so-and-so…”

  180. lorlee peterson

    Small town in ND on the Canada boarder. Home address was Bathgate, phone number Cavailer, school was Neche and played sports with Pembina. we played sports so we knew everyone in the county not just our school. played both basketball first played the b-squad game, played in the pep band still in my uniform then sat on the bench during the A-squad game.
    going back to all city reunion. my husband amazed that everyone fits in the gym. also that we knew everyone in the five grades above you and below you because you all played together in the band.
    very last one and best one- on facebook you are friends with your old high school teachers and they are on your Christmas card list.

    • lacey

      great post. im in illinois, grew up in a small town, but my grandma (fail/walberg) and great grandma(walberg/christianson) grew up in beausmont, ND. i love going back there in the summertime to the last remaining building, the church, to hear her stories of growing up in her small town :) nothing is better than smalltowns.

    • Larry Pederson

      Growing up near Walhalla, I know you are telling the absolute truth.

  181. Chase

    Everyone leaves their keys in their car
    Drinking and driving isn’t really frowned upon, as long as you’re on a gravel road
    There are only one or two deputies on duty at a time, the town is too small to have it’s own police force
    Everyone waves to each other
    Rumors spread like wildfire
    When someone new moves into town, everyone stares
    Everyone’s a misfit, some are just better at hiding it
    The highlight of the 4th of July parade are the tractors
    You can pay the neighbor kid $10 to mow/rake your lawn, but when winter comes you have to shovel the snow yourself
    You and your siblings of the same gender may have dated the same people, especially if they are close in age

  182. brian wurzer

    we had a old guy in our town that would park outside stores he would honk his horn they would come out and get his list of what he needed and bring it out to him

  183. Erin Schave

    The directions to your house include turn off the paved road.
    Your parents never ask where you are, because they know your friends as well as you do.

  184. Loran

    The UPS man knows what everyone drives and completes 90% of his route by stopping in town and dropping off packages in everyones vehicles (because no one locks them).

  185. Danny Waugh

    Summer weight lifting for football was picking up hay bales. Party line phones, we could listen to the other people’s conversations with out them knowing but if we wanted to join we pushed a button on the phone. If someone asked you where a street address was you would ask them who they were looking for because probably the only street address you actually knew was your own, but you knew where everyone in town lived.

  186. “Somehow everyone in the town was related to you” Umm, that’s because no one ever moves out of the town and it becomes really awkward when the only people you can date in high school are your cousins. Incest is the best!

    • Logan

      What happens in my area is that most people find a wife/husband during college or in a neighboring town that are not related and bring them into your community. However, because relation by marriage is a thing you do eventually wind up have a family connection to pretty much everyone if your family has been there for a while. This is why I refuse to date anyone from my hometown that has a family connection to the area dating back more than 20 years.

  187. Judy Rucker

    Someone steals the stop sign from the Post Office and the town woodworker makes a new one. (It happened!)

  188. Penny Olson

    How about “dragging main” on Friday nights just for something to do.

  189. Karen Arthur

    You didn’t need to put on your turning signal if You planned to turn…everyone knew when You would be turning and where.

  190. Beth

    We didn’t even have a high school! Everybody knew what you were doing and if it was something wrong, they would call your parents

  191. Kevin Christensen

    Everything on the radio sucked. The record store in the nearest town didn’t carry any music you wanted, so you had to special order it and wait for six weeks. Everyone knew everyone else’s business and gossipped about it. Unless you were mainstream and went to church, you were considered a freak. There is nothing for teenagers to do socially for fun, except find an isolated spot to drink & smoke weed. The only jobs you can get during the summer as a kid were $hitty farm jobs. I could go on, but what’s the point. I live in a big city now, thank god.

    • Celia

      Oh my goodness!! You are so right about the isolated spot to drink and smoke weed thing!! I never went, never really knew about them. But every Monday morning in high school, there were always stories!! I’m working on getting out of this small place!!

  192. I remember when my husband and I were first married some 34 years ago, we could charge our groceries at the local grocery store by signing a ticket. Our number was G-14. Bet you can’t do that anymore.

    • Bull Dog

      Still do this in my town’s grocery store. Kids can go there and charge to my account also. Usually pay the bill once a month or so. Actually, with most businesses in town you can just “write it down” and they will send you a bill later. No need to give them your address. Little over 1,000 in my town.

  193. Kaylee McPeck

    When you drive through a town that people consider to be “small town”…they have a Mc Donalds, 4 hotels, a hospital and a Hy-vee.
    When they drive through your small town, they have the face of a deer in head lights. Because they realized that their small town is gigantic compared to yours.

    Walking to your best friends house instead of driving. Because the short cut over the rail road tracks and the woods takes less time than driving around the whole block.kk

  194. Rachael

    Main street is a block long, and the only buildings that aren’t shut down are a post office and a bank.

    The farmers co-op is the where all the action is in town.

    • Judy

      The “pool hall” was always open too.

  195. Phil Mattox

    Your phone number only had three digits. You still had crank telephones and the operator’s name was Mable and when you left your home you would call her and tell her where to refer your calls.

  196. Kari M

    Before school in the morning your friend who had a car would pick you up a half hour earlier and you would drive around town before go to class (probably to smoke a cigarette because your parents didnt know you smoked lol)

  197. Carolynn

    “Your first vehicle you drove to school was probably your dad’s hunting truck, with the big antenna, and of course beer cans rolling in the back!” But during hunting season you had to find a ride lol

    Or “Working on the farm was an acceptable excuse to miss school”

  198. …and now that I’m a parent I can appreciate this one. When something happens at school (good or bad) your parents know about it before you get home that same day.

    • emilylcounts

      That’s a wonderful addition to the list! Thanks for the comment!

  199. Jill B

    In the summer, the neighborhood kids would assemble at the designated house so you could all ride your bikes to the swimming pool together and arrive just before it opened.

    The community school operated an “activity bus” that collected the out-of-town (or country) students after their sports practices and delivered them to their respective hometowns.

    The local newspaper/downtown businesses/other decor paid homage to the local school mascot.

    The town mayor is usually a foregone conclusion. And most local elections have just enough names on the ballot to fill the respective elected office openings.

    The local law enforcement and/or EMS know you well enough to provide an additional “guilt trip” while interacting with you in their professional capacity. (i.e. “What would your parents think if they knew that you….”)

    • emilylcounts

      Thanks for the great comments! It never occurred to me that the activity bus was a small town thing–and here I thought that was common haha. I would have had to live at school if the bus wouldn’t have brought me back to my hometown after practices.

    • lorlee peterson

      the last part- my dad’s cousin was the law so when my class had a paint night before graduation. i got a visit in person but i wasn’t out that night with my classmate.

  200. You can steal traffic/street signs and not get arrested/ticketed. You just have to call your parents and let them chew your ass.

    Instead of enforcing federal law when you smash a mailbox with a baseball bat, your punishment is to buy a new mailbox and go out to dig the hole and put it in yourself.

    • emilylcounts

      Your punishment is to call your parents…that definitely happened in my hometown too.

  201. Red

    And ALL the teachers knew who was dating who just as much as the students did, and sometimes faster…

    • emilylcounts

      Haha so true. It’s a little scary how much the teachers knew about our social lives.

  202. when you out in your yard and and your neighbor from a block away hollers for you to stop by when your free

    • emilylcounts

      Nice! That’s a great addition to the list.

  203. Denise

    Emily, Years later you move to a larger town and meet someone who grew up in the next town over, and discover you both still know many of the same people from back home.

    Also, when you were growing up you were on every sports team, drama and music production, etc., because if you were not, there wouldn’t be enough kids to form a team or do a show.

    The boys and girls didn’t really date much because they had been friends since kindergarten. It would have been like dating a sibling.

    • emilylcounts

      Those are great ones, Denise! I can especially relate to everyone being involved in everything.

  204. Lexie

    If for some reason someone doesn’t know who you are you can usually just tell them your parents names and they will figure it out. Then they will usually add a “I haven’t seen you since you were knee high!” – I love small town living and wouldn’t trade it for a big city with a Target ha ha

    • emilylcounts

      So true Lexie. It never fails that they will know your parents or your grandparents :) Gotta love it.

  205. #17 is definitely my favorite..we actually made it a “rule” for my junior prom, and we still only had 15 couples!

    • emilylcounts

      Haha your classmates would not have made a large enough group to call it prom, so it’s a good thing you brought in some outsiders. Didn’t you only have 1 boy in your class?

      • You are correct – only 1 boy in my class and yes he was my ex boyfriend!

        On our senior class trip to Texas, we only had to rent two small SUVs to fit everyone.

        I am still in awe over the dressing up from prom for church…I was so sure that was only my weird town ;) Funny how these realizations can come about so many years later!

        Reading some of the other comments, you could also charge to your parent’s account at many stores in my town. At the grocery store, you just gave the last four digits of your phone number and at the pharmacy/gift store, they wrote your charges down in a spiral bound notebook that they shared between the front and back of the store! You can still charge both of these ways.

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