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

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Point Betsie light house

John Cougar Mellencamp’s hit single Smalltown was released in 1985. I, like Cougar am small town too. I live in a county with 17,428 people, not that anybody cares or is counting except the census people. We have one traffic light at what is commonly known as Stapleton’s corner. We are all thankful for that light because making a left hand turn on US 31 in July is maddening because small-town Benzie doubles in size with the arrival of the fudgies. (A fudgie is local slang for  tourists seeking famous northern Michigan fudge.They can be seen eating it on our beautiful Lake Michigan beaches. Please don’t tell them and offend them, we need their money to survive the winter. Sarcasm intended)

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Crystal Lake in Benzie County

I have coined a phrase about this community of mine since the death of my beloved son Jacob. I  occasionally say, “The worst thing about living in small town Benzie is that everybody knows your business and the best thing about small town Benzie is that everybody knows your business.” Small town news and rumors spread like the poison ivy does around our national lakeshore. If there is dirt on somebody in small-town Benzie  you can be assured that the stain will be visible for everybody to see. This is the worst thing about small town; everybody knows your business.

We may be guilty of devouring our own from time to time, it is ugly I will admit yet I have discovered my small town loves it’s people deeply. It was never more evident to me when Jake died of a drug overdose. I had heard the whisperers and critics of him when he was alive, Some were concerned while others threw stones from their glass houses. I doesn’t matter to me, I knew my son like nobody else in small town. When the news about Jake’s death hit the community immediately came to life. There was an incredible outpouring of compassion and love that was shown toward us and quite honestly it floored us. This is the best thing about small town: everybody knows your business.

I sometimes sit and marvel at the compassionate, generous and kind individuals who make up our tiny population. When you want them least they are there and when you need them most they are there again. Grief is a lonely walk at times but I am always confident that I will never walk alone in this place. A place where people know your business and are always willing to help a hurting small town neighbor.

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I live in a beautiful place with beautiful people. We are small town and we wouldn’t have it any other way, I want to die here and be laid to rest next to my firstborn son. I think Mellencamp understood the value of small town USA; it is beyond value to me. Small town is priceless.

notes

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

Well I was born in a small town
And I can breathe in a small town
Gonna die in this small town
And that’s prob’ly where they’ll bury me

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