Norman Rockwell and the America We Remember

If you are feeling like America isn’t what it used to be, you may need a change of scenery. I’m in a small Kansas town of around 3,000 people. It’s a far cry from the other places I’ve lived in my life. Having grown up in Wichita, the largest city in Kansas, and then spending years in San Francisco and Houston, I’d consider myself to be a city girl. But small town America is special because it is still the America of our grandparents and… the America of our youth when we felt safe in our communities.


There are no fancy restaurants, but there is good country cookin’ at the local diners. If you want to dance, the VFW is the major nightspot. Local talent performs at the county fair, the highlight of the summer. 4-H is big and everyone’s kids enter livestock, photography and baked goods. Norman Rockwell could still find things worth painting in small town America. Update the fashions and the automobile styles and you can still find that kind of friendliness in heartland communities.


What brought about this bit of nostalgia? Well, I just drove down to the local Sonic Drive-In for lunch. It’s Sunday, so a little drive around town was in order before coming back home. Kids were all over town on their bicycles, waving and smiling as I yielded the right of way to them. There wasn’t an adult was in sight. Not because they don’t care about their kids, but because their kids are safe here. The cost of a season ticket for the city pool is affordable to almost everyone, and the bike rack out front is full most of the time. Children are still able to walk to school in small towns with the other kids in the neighborhood. In cities now, parents drive them to school and deliver them personally to their classroom.


When I moved here many years ago, I couldn’t figure out why anyone would ever want to live in a small town, and now I wonder why more people don’t move out of the cities and back to America, the real America…. where brotherly love and neighbor helping neighbor is still the order of the day.


And about those kids riding, unwatched, all over town? They are free and safe and having the time of their lives.


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