Monday, October 15, 2012

Small Town Excitement......yawn.....

Arayo waits, and waits, and waits, for the train

Small towns…..  You get your kicks where you can find them.

Excitement doesn't come our way often.  Presidential hopefuls don't visit, terrorists don't target us.  Talk centers around - oh - how much water is currently in the river and how the corn crop is doing (low and horrible in case you were wondering).

A group of us get together every Thursday for "Pie Day".  It's a mishmash of people - the Methodist minister and his wife usually make it.  The city clerk and the newspaper editor show up - along with an assortment of others.  Laurie, who owns the bakery, makes a pie of the week and posts it on a sign out in front of her shop, but if you don't like this week's pick, there's an assortment of yummy cookies to choose from.  But it isn't about the pie.  It's the talk.  I call it "Pies and Lies", but truthfully, not many lies get told - though discussions have gotten pretty loud at times and you can hear us laughing half way up the street.

We avoid the topic of politics.  Kansans are not a fightin' group, but we've got some pretty rabid Democrats sipping coffee here in a strong Republican state, so to keep the coffee from being splashed around - we politely avoid that snake pit.   But I think everything else is up for discussion. 

I recall years ago some people moved here from "the city".  Now, a fire in a small town is a big deal - but these folks hadn't been here long enough to understand.  We were at a gathering when the siren wailed and everyone got up, hopped in their cars and drove to the center of town where the fire station is.  See, they'd post the location of the fire on a chalk board just inside the door of the fire house so the volunteer firemen would know where to go if they got there after the fire engine had left.  

For the rest of us, it let us know whether to go home and finish dinner, or go watch someone's house burn down.  The message "grass fire at Joe Smith's pasture" wasn't going to get much attention, but "Hammon's Funeral Home" - well, people were going to run down to watch that one!  That would be a real social event.

The "city folks" didn't quite get it.

Union Pacific Steam Train rushes by Oswego
Today the word went out that a train was coming.  The Union Pacific was sending around an old steam train that was due to come through town at about 12:45.  So I called the newspaper.  My friends there had sorted out which tracks the train would be running on, and I talked to my friend, Pat, who thought her husband might enjoy this kind of outing - so at about 12:30 we all showed up - didn't want to miss this, you know.    

Seems steam trains don't run on time, so we sat out by the tracks nearly a couple hours, swapping stories, talking about the methods kids used to hide their beer from the cops.  And, we learned that Ern, Pat's husband, knows his steam trains.  He used to live on a box car.  His dad worked for the railroad and the family lived in a car that would get moved from town to town as his dad's job moved him.   Parkinsons has stolen much of Ern's voice - dang it.  I personally could have talked with him for hours about living in that box car.

We discussed what the train might be carrying.  Maybe people paid thousands of dollars for a chance to ride the train and the money was going to charity?  I assumed it might be carrying nuclear waste - polluting everyone waiting along the tracks to watch it go by.  My mind just works like that some days.  

We were still in good spirits when we heard the high-pitched "Petticoat Junction" train whistle.  We took our positions, and the train - all 8 or 10 cars of it - whizzed by.  30 seconds and it was over - and that was our excitement for the week - heck, maybe for the month.  

Small towns - we don't have stop lights, traffic is low, and we get great pleasure in the smallest of things.  Drop on by some day.  Chances are, if you aren't here on Pie Day, you'll think nothing ever happens, but your blood pressure will drop a notch or two.