Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

Small Town in the South
by James Glaser
June 19, 2009

I moved down to the South from a small town in Northern Minnesota, and now it looks like I'll be moving to a small town in the South. Tallahassee, where I live now is a nice city, but it is a city with thousands and thousands of people. After you have lived in a small town, it is hard to handle a big city.

Where I came from (Northome, Minnesota) the population was around 300, including the nursing home. I didn't live right in town, actually about 4 miles out in the country. Now I am moving back to the country, about 3 miles from the city of Madison, Florida. (population 3,900)

When you buy a house, there are lots of things you have to do. You have to get home owner's insurance, have the house inspected, have the well tested, get a survey, find out about zoning, and start meeting people in the town to see if you want to live there or not.

Madison is old, and it has pre Civil War houses, and a quant main street, enough businesses so that if you need to, you can get just about anything in town. It has a hospital, a community college, a nice new high school, a couple of lumber companies, a few restaurants, and it even looks prosperous.

Better yet, it has nice people. Everybody knows everybody else in town, so the city zoning office, after getting the info on building permits I needed, gave me a list of the town's insurance agents, telling me they were all nice folks. The insurance office told me about the churches in town, and a realtor told me about the water testing place, and so on and so on.

The insurance agent went to high school with the real estate agent's mother. The water testing lady's son went to school with the real estate agent. The man who owns the newspaper went to school with the insurance agent's dad, but the lady who owns the restaurant with linen table cloths is from Russia.

The man who owns the tractor store, (he is new to the story) told me who I could get to cut my grass, and also told me where the American Legion is. You can get a drink at the Legion, but it is 15 miles out in the county. It seems that the City of Madison and Madison County are dry, so it is good I guess to know about the Legion. But, as far as I know there are no covered bridges in this Madison County.

After a day of running around getting everything I could get done for the loan paper work all day, I figured I could have been back in Northern Minnesota. Except for the Southern accents, everyone was just like the people back home—all smiles and polite as can be and ready and willing to help you all they can.

Now, I am not saying the people in Tallahassee are not nice, but they are "big city," and they do tend to put you off a bit, and if you want any help from the local government, you are going to have to take a number and wait your turn. Big cities have too many people for politeness to come out in people.

So, I am heading back to small town living, and I think it is the right move. Even though I am a Yankee, I think I'll fit in better in Madison. I have a Semper Fi front plate on my truck, and in the South, being a Marine Corp veteran means something. Even though you can't talk right, you did serve your country, so they will put up with you.

I have found that if people give me half a chance, we can get along and usually become friends. Walking around in a small town, you just have to smile, because everyone else is smiling at you and saying hello or "how you doing?" Wanda told me I should say, "I am doing well, thank you."

So, if I can remember that, and remember what my dad said about not talking religion or politics, I'll do just fine. Other that having some sleepless nights worrying about how hard it is to move all my tools, supplies, and art work, I'm looking forward to the move.

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