Living in a Small Town

I grew up in a town of three thousand people. It served a much larger community of villages, for want of a better word, and small farms and stations. A station for the benefit of Canadian readers is a very large farm where sheep and or cattle are raised.

The town was cut in two by a large green river. It wasn’t divided in half as the northern section was much smaller than the south where the shops and most of the facilities were located. The north’s important venues and businesses were the showgrounds, the racecourse, the railway station, a primary school and a butter factory.

We lived in the south on a street a block over from the river. Many of the streets in the town had been named when the British ruled India and ours was one of these. A row of phoenix palms were planted along out side of the street. They were decorative but useless as far as kids were concerned. You can’t climb a phoenix palm.

In a small town you know everybody and everybody knows you. My dad and uncle owned a hardware shop and right next their two other brothers ran a clothing store. People knew I belonged to one of the men but would ask me who my father was. I’d tell them he was the tall one in the hardware shop. It was a fair question since I had one sister and twelve cousins.

Rumours circulated by wildfire and it was hard to keep anything a secret. Everyone knew if a doctor was having an affair with one of his patients. Our family always knew about any death before the obituary reached the newspaper because the local undertaker and our good friend lived across the road. He visited us every night after the evening meal to spread any news and probably to avoid any hassle while the kitchen in his house was being tidied.

I’ll write more about our ton next week.