Monday, July 27, 2015

Podunk USA

I grew up in a small town, population under 500, covering 36 square miles. This town was not podunk, at all! There were pristine lakes, wooded areas and nice tourist shops. Houses are mostly nice, many lake homes. It is a very popular area to visit because of the lakes and trails. Fishing, hunting and snowmobiling are common pastimes.

Fast forward to 2002 when I moved to a very podunk town. The population is 700, covering less than a square mile (435 acres), and surrounding the town are farm fields as far as the eye can see. Lakes are few and far between and the nearest town for shopping and restaurants is 21 miles away. It is not a big town. The population is under 14,000 but at least they have Target, Walmart, a large grocery store, a mall, movie theaters, and many convenience stores and chain restaurants.

My town has an elementary school, a police station, a fire department, a bank, a post office, a park, a bakery, a small grocery store, a pay at the pump gas station, a bar, a self serve car wash, a nursing home, a grain elevator, and a few small businesses. Main street is 2 city blocks.

There is no way out of town on the south side, to the main highway, without having to cross the railroad tracks, so we spend a lot of time waiting for trains. If we are going north, it is all back roads.

There is one 4 way stop, just stop signs, no stop lights.

It is not uncommon to get stuck driving behind a manure spreader or tractor/combine. I have had to drive partially off the road to get around them, and have had my van splattered with manure leaking from the truck.

We can walk to anywhere in the town.

There are almost no choices for kids activities beyond the standard baseball, football, volleyball, and basketball. We go to another town for Karate and Dance.

Everyone knows everyone and their business. Gossip is a common pastime.

Twice a year, the entire town smells literally like shit for two weeks straight.

Harvest is a big deal around here, mainly corn. My eyes get completely itchy from corn dust.

County wide, there are only 4 people per square mile.

To the east and west of us are equally podunk towns, which are included in our school district.

Farm kids spend time selling corn out of the back of their pickups.

The trailer park consists of half of the in town population.

There are mostly older homes built in the 70's.

In town lots are bigger than average, 75x150

Most people have a garden and fire pit in their back yard. Possibly also a swing set, trampoline, sandbox, and blowup pool in the summer.

Mailboxes are on the street in clusters of 3-5.

The noise of the trains and grain elevator sometimes keep me up at night.

There is only one choice for land line telephone service, cable tv, and satellite tv, and two choices for internet.

There are only two school bus stops in town, and country kids get picked up at their houses. Many kids need to get on the bus an hour and a half before school starts. The school district includes 3 towns, yet there are under 300 students in grades K-5 (elementary school), and under 300 students in grades 6-12 (high school). The high school is in the next town over, 4 miles west of here.

Have you been to a podunk town? Tell me about it!