I grew up in a small town in Southeastern Kentucky. If you’ve never lived in a small town you don’t know what you’re missing. Let me tell you a little about small town living:
1. Wal-Mart is THE place to go. Seriously, don’t go to Wal-Mart if you don’t want to see someone (or several people) that you know. If I need to run to the store for something quick and I’m looking “like a varmit” as a friend’s mother likes to say ie….no makeup, yesterday’s hair in a ponytail and sweats, I will go some place besides Walmart because I don’t want to see people I know! Back in the day when Miss Adventures and I were in high school we decided to skip school one day with another friend of ours (this was the first time I had ever skipped school). We went and ate breakfast and then went to Walmart and who did I run into….my dad. Yep first time I was brave enough to skip school and I get caught, at Walmart by my dad.
2. In small towns its all about the festivals and fairs. In our area, festival season kicks off with the county fair in July, then in August is the Laurel County Homecoming which is a festival held at the local state park. It has a rich history through the years and festivities include pageants, food, flea markets, talent shows, parades, and a gospel singing. Also in August, in the next town over of Corbin, is a festival called Nibroc which is simply Corbin spelled backwards.
In September is the Worlds Chicken Festival. Yes that’s right, a festival about chickens, seriously, Google it. You see, we are the birthplace so to speak of the first Kentucky Fried Chicken. The chicken festival is a four day festival that shuts down several blocks of downtown streets and schools even cancel school on Friday because of the Chicken Festival.
*Photo source: Laurel County Tourism website.*
When I was in college if you saw someone from home, between the time school started and the end of September, the first question you always asked was “Are you going home for the Chicken Festival?” It was like a yearly high school reunion.
3. In a small town everyone else knows what you are doing before you even do it. At least it seems that way. I know a girl that bought a pregnancy test and before she could get home to take it her mother called asking if she had something she needed to tell her because evidently someone saw her buying the test and immediately called her mother!
4. A trip to the grocery store usually means you will see one of your elementary school teachers, a high school teacher, and your old Sunday school teacher and you will have to talk to each one to tell them what you are doing nowadays, how your momma’s doing and your brother, daddy, dog, and the rest of the family.
5. Growing up a Friday night involved cruising the shopping center. This consisted of cars, bumper to bumper, circling one of the local shopping center parking lots. Sometimes you met up with a group and everyone pulled into the middle of the lot and stood around outside your cars and trucks cause that’s what the cool kids did.
6. Speaking of trucks, most guys drive a truck, at least at some point in their lives….and some women do too. All the country music songs about pickup trucks are correct. However, not everyone has a gun wrack in the back window of their truck.
7. If you go to the bootleggers you’re not going to buy bootlegged videos. In a recent conversation at work with a lady who grew up in a big city, we were talking about bootleggers and she thought we were talking about the kind that copied videos. No, a bootlegger is someone that you go to to buy alcohol. Why not buy it at the store, you ask? Because this is a dry town. That means no alcohol sales. Its just been in the past few years that we became “moist” meaning you could buy it by the drink in local restaurants, but only ones that seated over 100 people, don’t have dancing or pool tables. I’ve heard rumors of bootleggers that even had a drive thru window. You pulled up to a window of their mobile home and they opened the window and sold you your choice of beverage.
8. When you get together with your friends you don’t “go out and have a drink” (see number 7). Instead you “come over for dinner”. Everything revolves around food.
9. You really can go to your neighbor and ask for a cup of sugar….but be prepared to stand and talk to your neighbor for at least 30 minutes before she hands over the sugar.
10. If you went to a party, chances are that party was in a field or barn and the talk at school on Monday would be about who got caught when the cops showed up.
Growing up we all were in a hurry to get away from this small Southern town but looking around town…and Facebook…it looks like most of us are still right here. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.