Well I was born in a small town
And I live in a small town
Probably die in a small town
Oh, those small communities
Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area I often wondered what it would have been like growing in up in a small town. A town out in “the country” with farms, ranches, and lots of open space where there were more cows than cars.
So it’s easy to understand why the song Small Town by Mellencamp always resonated with me. The lyrics reinforces my romantic vision and reasons for living in a small town.
My small town is Tuolumne California. But it’s more than that. It’s also a collection of small towns in a community woven together by residents with a similar appreciation for a small town culture. Sierra Nevada Foothill Towns like Jamestown, Sonora, Twain Harte, and Columbia. Towns with people that have a great appreciation for nature, the conifers and oaks, and the wildlife. Towns where community events are plentiful and not overwhelming due to crowding or long drive to get there (like in the Bay Area).
This past Independence Day we went to Columbia to watch the annual parade. Small town culture was at it’s best as the modest parade of only 40 entrants walked and rode down the main street of this living gold rush town. Entrants included classic vehicles from the era, docents dressed in period clothing, local youth groups, and individuals with their pets dressed in red, white and blue. Registration for the parade was at 11:00 am. The parade started at 12:00 and was finished by 12:30. A small parade by any standard but one that had a giant dose of enthusiasm and small town culture.
The next day we went to the Mother Lode Fair in Sonora. This is the Tuolumne County fair that runs only four days, opening at 3:00 pm and ending at 11:00 pm each of the days. Small by most county fair standards but chalk full of tradition with fair rides and food on the midway, games, demolition derby, truck pull, and of course the agriculture and animals.
Both events underscored the small town culture that I once only dreamed about and now appreciate as a small town resident. I’ve said it before and will repeat it here: we left the Bay Area over three years ago and we have not looked back. We’re blessed to have been able to make this move and fulfill the vision I had as a young man of wanting to live in a small town. That romantic vision of life at 3100 feet.
So as Mellencamp said:
Got nothing against a big town
Still hayseed enough to say
Look who’s in the big town
But my bed is in a small town
Oh, and that’s good enough for me