Yes, There ARE Still Places Like This

Dscn2055 I needed some recharging this weekend, and I got it.  While Hubs was out of town, the kids and I spent a quiet weekend with my parents in my old hometown, in the hills of rural Arkansas (let’s call it Mayberry, for good reason.)Dscn2008

My dad grew up there, and my grandfather, and my great-grandfather.  It’s a very small town of about 4,000 people–the kind of place where old men hang out at the gas station to drink coffee and everyone in town goes to the Friday night football games.  When I was in college, my dad sent me a copy of the weekly town paper, and one week a "bandit squirrel" Dscn2054causing some property damage made the front page. It’s that kind of place.

When I lived there, of course, I couldn’t wait to leave.  I thought it was dull and small-minded.  And to be sure, though it’s easy to romanticize living in a Dscn2037Mayberry-esque, small, southern town, life isn’t as uncomplicated as one might think.  There is little privacy.  My mother tells the story of, when she first moved to Mayberry after marriage, her next-door neighbor came over to compliment her on her lovely new towels.  Towels? my mother wondered, until she realized the neighbor had been inspecting what she was hanging on the clothesline in the backyard.

Now that I no longer live there, it’s easier to dwell on my hometown’s charm.  As I strolled the streets this weekend, camera in hand (and laughing as passing cars slowed down–I Dscn2009_1knew I would probably be dinnertime conversation at more than one table as folks discussed who was the strange lady with the camera), I felt the refreshment that can only come from touching our own roots.  I’m not that young girl anymore–I don’t want to be.  But something in me just rests when I visit the place where I was Dscn2010completely carefree, not forced to make any decisions or take care of anyone else. 

And so, today, I’m thankful for that little town that used to frustrate me so much.  I’m thankful to  know there’s still a place where the beauty parlor is a scene straight out of Steel Magnolias, and a lady taking pictures on the sidewalk is a reason to slow down your car.  Thanks, Mayberry.




33 thoughts on “Yes, There ARE Still Places Like This

  1. Lindsey says:

    The “real” Mayberry (or at least where Andy Griffith was filmed) is right near me. It is a charming place. Thanks for sharing your great pictures here!
    And…happy mama’s day!

  2. rsd says:

    Great post sis. It almost makes me want to go back… well, almost. It is so strange how a place can hold so many contradictory feelings. It is such a rest from my family’s life in the northeast and yet I pull my hair out when I hear typical stories from Mom and Dad. But, either way, your pictures and words captured the feel of our little town perfectly.

  3. Brenda says:

    I wasn’t aware that you’re an Arkansas native. I was born in England, Arkansas and grew up in Little Rock. You’re right, it is easier to see the charm of a small town when you don’t live there.

  4. Mich says:

    It sounds like you had a much needed rest. Seeing pictures of your church sure brings back memories…Love the picture of your dad and the boys.

  5. Theresa says:

    Great pics S! My favorite was the hand written one about being closed for the senior graduation. Glad to see in this face-paced world that places like this still exist!

  6. Michelle- This One's For the Girls says:

    Hey– I know that small town!! (Marrying an Arkansas, smalltown boy helps, plus the fact that we’ve lived in Salem (near Mountain Home), Jonesboro, Hot Springs and Camden. (Husband’s folks live in Bentonville.) I think I’ve driven through nearly every town in Arkansas. 🙂
    I love the small town where we currently reside– but there is definitely a downside to it too.
    Loved your pictures.

  7. Rachelle says:

    What a great little small town. I prefer to live in a city, but love to visit small places like that. It is a totally restful feeling. Thanks for sharing those pics with us!

  8. Susanne says:

    Love the sign that says “In Honor the Seniors we will be closed for graduation”. Only in a small town! That would NEVER happen in my city!

  9. Rabbit says:

    Oh Shannon…I just got home from a week in MY hometown…not so small but still that peaceful calm of being where I’m FROM. Glad you got to slow down and breathe, and thank you for sharing it with us!

  10. Gibee says:

    Beautiful pics! Sounds like you had a restful weekend.
    And, uh … your hubby was sent on a business trip over MOTHER’S DAY?!? Is this company run by men? It must be!
    Thanks for slowing our pace down for a few minutes by sharing your weekend with us!

  11. Traci says:

    Even though I live in an urban area of AR, I still travel through the rural towns surrounding us and I’m always reminded of my days living in rural Kosciusko, Mississippi. I love going back and I miss it, but not enough to move. I’ve gotten used to this city life – haha well it’s not really city life – yet… but it seems like it compared to everything else around us.

  12. mopsy says:

    Very nice post! I never appreciated my hometown until adulthood. I love visiting.
    Thanks for taking us along on your trip to Mayberry.

  13. Megan says:

    My husband grew up in an extremely rural area of 150, but the closest town where he went to school had about 1,500. We lived there for two months last year between Colorado and Missouri and it is on the radar screen of places we just well might end up after seminary.
    I can get very excited about that and very terrified at the same time for all the reasons you mentioned here. The charm of the place is definitely easier to feel when only visiting and not a resident… 🙂

  14. mimi2six says:

    When a friend’s son married a girl from a much larger city and they were moving to our little “Mayberry”, I told her that the thing she would dislike the most about a small town is that everyone knows your business, and the thing she would like the most is……that everyone knows your business. Much of small town life is as charming as it is often depicted. It has its down side, too……as does any place. It was wonderful raising Shannon and her brother here, but I’m glad they didn’t stay here. (And we’re seriously thinking about leaving when we retire…..we long for anonymity!!!!!)

  15. Lei says:

    On our way to my dad’s house we drive though a couple small, Mayberry-esque towns. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live in one of them… such small, quaint, everyone knows your name type places. Seems like a charming environment from an onlooker’s point of view…

  16. chilihead says:

    Lovely post. I felt many of those same things this weekend while visiting my mother. My dad also comes from an even smaller town that I do–more like yours. And it is truly wonderful to make that visit every year when we go to Iowa.

  17. Shalee says:

    One thing I miss about the South and small towns: the slow, accepting idea that life is good at a stroll. Stop and talk with the neighbors on the front porch, drink some lemonade and help a friend. Those things get passed by in a busy, hustle-bustle place. Oh and the homemade apple pies to share with a new neighbor… That is one tradition I refuse to lose!
    So glad you found the recharging you needed. God was leading you right back to home.
    And I love that you showed the church that you got married. I bet it looks as special as the day you said your vows!

  18. whimsy says:

    I live in a “Mayberry” town too. We have a whopping 400 people! People don’t just know my business, they know my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, you name it!
    For the most part it’s wonderful. But you’re never anonymous. That’s for sure.

  19. Tess says:

    wahhhh!! I want to go home now! *sniffle* I have another month to go until I visit my mom, and I’m counting down.

  20. Heth says:

    Sounds like a wonderful little town. I’m glad you could spend Mother’s Day with your family in your hometown. How lovely.

  21. At A Hen's Pace says:

    Shannon, I’m from a small town too, in Ohio. Loved your post.
    I thought of you and your Disney trip earlier this week when I posted a picture of my “Mickey Mouse” tulips! Which my 3 year old daughter picked. All 33 of them. They make quite a display–in the picture. Not in my yard. Anymore. (Sniff.)
    Hope your Mother’s Day was happy!

  22. Stephanie says:

    It sounds wonderful. I would love to live in your Mayberry.
    I about died when I saw that milk can in the pictures with the antiques for sale. I just snagged one my mom painted and it has the same balloons on it.

  23. Karla says:

    I love this post! I’m from SuperSmallTown, North Carolina (Pinnacle). Don’t live there anymore though, but close enough.
    To this day (and I’m very proud of this fact), Pinnacle does NOT have even one traffic light of any type…no stop light, no blinking red/yellow light, nothing! I love it!
    And Pinnacle is just down the road a piece from the “real” Mayberry (Mt. Airy, NC – where Andy Griffith is from – and btw, I’m a BIG Andy Griffith Show freak!). =)
    Thanks for posting your memories of your hometown!! =)

  24. Karen says:

    I’m also from a small town in AR. East AR though, so no hills, and I’m assuming that you’re from west AR. Thanks for sharing your memories! BTW, if you have time, read Haven Kimmel’s A Girl Named Zippy. It’s absolutely delightful!

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