Small Town

Well I was born in a small town And I live in a small town Prob’ly die in a small town Oh, those small – communities. John Mellencamp “Small Town”

A cool song. I was born and raised in Philadelphia. As an adult, I moved to New York – Brooklyn to be exact. I lived in Brooklyn for more than 4 years. From there, I lived in Manhattan for the same amount of time. I then spent a little over two years in the Bronx.
Besides being a bit of vagabond, you’ll note there is no small town in my past. So, unless you count my time at my college (State College, PA – the main campus of Pennsylvania State University), I am as big city as you can get. Well, that is until my family, and I made our way out to the suburbs of North Jersey nearly six years ago.


I couldn’t take it at first – the suburbs, that is. I don’t like mowing the lawn (, and I like noise, and thrive on activity. Yet, I’ve adjusted. There is peace and quiet and space. I love the space. So even though a part of me will always miss the city – Manhattan in particular – I am okay here in the burbs.
There is a sense of community in a small town. When I think of small towns, I think of familiarity. When I lived in the various boroughs of New York City, I was in high rises (some were higher than others), and I would see the same people coming in and out of the building. Yet, I knew very few if any of them. We shared hallways but not lives.
It’s not like that here in the suburbs. Now, it’s not like I know everyone, and we get together for brunch once a month on a rotating basis. Still, you can’t help but see people around whether it’s at the bagel store, the dry cleaner, the bank, or the town pool. At one point in my life, I probably would not have cared about this or even found it suffocating. Now, there is something about it that I find nice, decent, and comforting. It’s as if because of our proximity, we are bound together on some level.


Our town does some nice things to foster this sense of community. There is a Memorial Day Parade. The fire engines, police cars, EMTs, local servicemen, and high school march. You can watch the whole parade in less than an hour. There is nothing cool about it. But we’ve gone multiple times and enjoy it every time. We get to see and appreciate those who support our community.
Yesterday we attended a carnival at the local public school. The carnival was simple – none of the rides is about to make its way to Six Flags. We were there only a short while, but the boys had a lot of fun. They went on some rides, ate some popcorn, and drank some Coca Cola. We saw past and present classmates of SJ (who attends the school). Also, my wife volunteered to work at one of the booths. The tickets and snacks were pricey. But we didn’t complain. After all, the purpose of the carnival was to raise money for our local schools.

My wife hard at work at the booth and dealing with two clowns.

My wife hard at work at the booth and dealing with two clowns.

SJ & BR - two swingers

SJ & BR – two swingers

The boys and I enjoying the fair.

The boys and I enjoying the fair.

This big city guy is content. “It’s good enough for me.”

39 thoughts on “Small Town

  1. I’ve never known my neighbors. I’ve lived in suburbs, but suburbs so adjacent to big cities that you would barely know you were in big city proper. When we finally do make the move it will be to an idyllic community where I imagine we might actually know our neighbors and our kids will play in shared yards and streets and BBQs will be open invitations to visit. At least this is what I imagine, but who knows what it would really be like!

    I’m glad that you’re content!

    • What you describe certainly does sound idyllic. We don’t have that here though maybe it exists somewhere. I don’t if I need quite that much community.

  2. Contentment, wherever you find it, is a big win in my book! I’ve never lived in a small town, but my in laws do and at times I’m envious of all the many advantages of small town living. I love where I live and if I could bring the people I know and love with me, I’d be happy to live anywhere, especially anywhere warmer than Chicago. With grass. And a backyard. And … 😉

    • Warmer – ahh that would be nice.
      While I do not like mowing the lawn, I very much like having a backyard.
      I’ve seen less posts from you lately – what’s up?

      • N doesn’t want me to put pictures of the kids up, he gets all freakish with me, I think a blog gets more personal if you share real life pictures

        • I agree with you that it is more personal. However, I am somewhat leery of doing it also. As you can see, I can get past it.

  3. I was born in Amsterdam and loved living near Rotterdam when I was in hig school, but now I am all for small and quiet. I’m glad you now enjoy where you live.

  4. I lived in small towns growing up. Some so small they didn’t have a population sign. For a while we rented a farm house surrounded by fields. Corn everywhere you looked for several months out of the year. We moved to the town we’re in now, population 37, 000, 13 years ago. I don’t like it. There’s too many people. It feels crowded. I miss the corn fields. Something tells I wouldn’t fair so well in Manhattan, lol.
    I’m glad you’ve learned to appreciate small town life. It looks like you all enjoyed the fair and there’s nothing quite like a small town parade to bring a smile to a kid’s face.

    • Wow, that really is small town. I am not sure if I could handle that.
      I can’t imagine you in Manhattan.
      Yes, the fair and the parade are both nice sweet innocent events.

  5. It must be great feeling part of a community and spend a day with your family meeting, seeing people from your neighbourhood. We don’t have this here in the city, I say hi to my next door neighbours but that’s it. But like you I love the city and enjoy everything about it even if it means living in a smaller house, hubby would love to live further away but I’m not ready yet, maybe later! btw, I love the pictures of your family 🙂

    • It is nice to be part of the community. Truthfully, it would be nice to know more of our neighbors.
      As I noted, there are still things I miss about the city. Anyway, save a spot for me in the city.

  6. I like my small town but my neighborhood is a downer. I wish there were more community. Most of the people are older, there are not many children, and there is little socializing. Not that I’m especially social, but hey, maybe I would if I could!

    I like the pictures too. My vote is for more pictures in your blogs.

    • If we more social, we would know more people. So, I can relate. Do you live in senior community?
      I am glad you like the pictures. Thanks for saying. I worry a bit about putting in personal pictures. Too many weird people out there.

      • Not a senior community, just an older neighborhood where most people are 50ish. I was looking for a house that was not in one of the newer subdivisions with tiny yards where all the houses looked similar. But then I didn’t have kids, and didn’t realize that people my age who were starting families tend to go for the newer spots.

        • I was joking when I said a senior community. Are you content with where are you now? Are you considering a move?

  7. I grew up in a little village and I loved knowing my neighbors. Actually I had a great childhood which I’ll never forget. I’m happy to hear you’re living at a great place where you like it and are able to raise your children!

    • I hope my children will grow up and be able to say the same things you are saying.
      We are in a really nice town.

  8. I’ve always wondered how I would do in a big city. Part of me always wanted to live in one and be part of the excitement. I’ve visited many and have always felt exhilarated and in my element when I’ve been there but I sit and ponder if it’s just because it’s something new. As you know I live in a very small, tight knit community. There is so many advantages to it. Just yesterday my next door neighbor who is 89 fell in her house and couldn’t get up. Her caregiver came running over to our house at 7:00 a.m. so I could help her get my neighbor in an upright position. This kind of thing happens quite frequently and all of my neighbors have seen me in my pajamas. That probably doesn’t sound like a pretty picture but to me it’s very comforting that I know everyone around me and we all look out for each other.

    • Believe it or not part of my inspiration for this post was your recent post about the elderly man in your neighborhood. As you could have gathered from my reply, it got me thinking about community and what it means.
      Saying all your neighbors have seen you in your pajamas can be construed in many ways.

  9. I was born in Miami and I lived most of my life in big cities like that too. But we always lived in the suburbs so my big city experience wasn’t the same as yours but I had some serious culture shock when I went to college in Athens, GA. It only took me a year to see how cool it was to live in a small town for the very same reasons you mentioned in your post. I’m still out in the suburbs but my goal is move to a small beach town. { good to see some pics of you and the family!}

      • I didn’t know them personally but I would see them around town like at a restaurant or out at a bar. And when I move to the beach town, I’ll send you some pictures so you can enjoy it with me.

  10. OH! I like your new blog set up! I am finally back from a long semester blogging hiatus, writing papers for classes takes all of the creativity out of my brain, so now I can catch up on every ones writing! I love living in a small community. I can’t imagine the constant pulse of city life- I don’t even like going to the grocery on new ad Wednesdays!

  11. I also love seeing the pictures! It’s a hard decision, isn’t it? I think of some of those families who have TV shows filmed in their house, like the Nanny shows or the Pioneer Woman. That is unnerving to me, but a few still snapshots here and there don’t seem so terrifying.

    I decided long ago that there are few people with enough time to hunt down our family and stalk us, but many people who would at least like to see who’s talking to them. It makes it seem more familiar and neighborly, just like your post. 🙂

  12. I’m big city too, born and raised. My husband is small town; as small as it gets I think—small town on a small island. Thankfully, he moved to the big city the first chance he got, and he loves it here. We’re raising our kids here and we’re likely staying put. There are days when I long for a little less traffic and a bit of tranquility, but the opportunities in the city far outweigh any fleeting desire I might have for a simpler life.

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