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Small Towns

  • ... history records the large events or the general condition of society, but only an individual can put down the way of life in a small town ...

  • Nothing, I believe, is so full of life under the microscope as a drop of water from a stagnant pool.

  • You're shocked, Mr. Burton, at hearing what our gossiping little town thinks. I can tell you this — they always think the worst!

  • Gossiping is the plague of little towns.

    • George Sand,
    • 1831, in Raphaël Ledos de Beaufort, ed., Letters of George Sand, vol. 1 ()
  • The whole town looks as if it had been left out in the rain too long and by mistake.

  • Any deviation from the ordinary course of life in this quiet town was enough to stop all progress in it.

  • ... it's a good idea to wait a few months before joining anything when you arrive at a village. A bookseller friend who retired to nearby Oxfordshire, and was worried he might be bored, got himself on to every village committee in the first six months, and spent the next ten years extricating himself.

  • ... in a village you can't sack or fight with someone, as you'll find yourself stuck beside them in the hairdresser's next morning.

  • ... nobody knows anything about America who does not know its little towns.

  • ... there is a generosity of spirit in a village often missing when the human scale is lost.

  • Village life is rich in meaning because everything that happens with it is of consequence. A loss to one is a loss to all.

  • Village life has an intimate scale. Here people feel connected, knowing that they matter to each other.

  • In little towns, lives roll along so close to one another; loves and hates beat about, their wings almost touching.

  • I started my career in a town so small the local clinic was called Fred's Hospital and Grill.

    • Joan Rivers,
    • in Joey Adams, Speaker's Bible of Humor ()
  • ... when Riverboro fell into a habit of thought or speech, it saw no reason for falling out of it; at any rate, in the same century.

  • Life in a small town is like an intricately plotted novel, and even though I had read every book in the public library by the time I was fourteen, I found the real people around me saying and doing far more interesting things than did the imaginary book characters.

    • Maxine Cheshire,
    • in Maxine Cheshire, with John Greenya, Maxine Cheshire, Reporter ()
  • In the busy city, dying might be resented as a breach of good taste, and the body hastily dispatched to the undertaker and the crematorium; but in Lost Haven, where a man's mates had to turn out and dig his grave, it was an occasion shared by the whole community.

  • ... every family had its scandals sooner or later. The sure knowledge that this was true made living in a small town bearable.

  • There's no job too big to benefit from a small town person's perspective, I discovered, just as there's no town too small for thinking big.

  • To make a small town achieve its potential, you need everybody. When a blind person carries a crippled person who can see, both of them get where they're going.

  • We know our neighbors — so far as we have the right to know them. We hear of their joys and their sorrows, and hasten to make them ours so far as we may. Life in a small town is like a layer cake. One gets the whole of it, frosted top, lemon filling and all.

  • The art of living in a small town is one of the most difficult to acquire.

  • Living in a small town anywhere means preserving one's self behind a mask.

  • There is a strange depression that hangs over every little town that is no longer in the mainstream of life.

  • It seemed as if all the clocks in Deephaven, and all the people with them, had stopped years ago, and the people had been doing over and over what they had been busy about during the last week of their unambitious progress.

  • It was such a small town we didn't have a village idiot. We had to take turns.

  • What is its [the town's] chief business? ... Business, is it? What business would the people here have but to be minding one another's business?

  • It seems to me, though I may not know what I am talking about, that those who live in small towns are either so deeply part of their own place that they could never be happy in any other, and must, to be happy, be forever rooted to the streets, the faces, the customs, which they have always known; or else they are consumed with a passion to get out into the large world — and spend the rest of their lives trying to make it as much like home as possible.

  • A little town is like a lantern. Nothing's hid from sight.

  • I wanted to get out of our thimble of a town, where every stone had eyes.

  • There are no sick people in North Oxford. They are either dead or alive. It's sometimes difficult to tell the difference, that's all ...

  • Small towns are sometimes like that; familiarity runs high, while regard for personal space is low, if nonexistent.

  • In such an ingrown community, rumor and gossip were the cake and wine of life.

  • All the news and scandal of a large county forty years ago, and a hundred years before, and ever since, all the marriages, deaths, births, elopements, law-suits, and casualties of her own times, her father's, grandfather's, great-grandfather's, nephew's, and grand-newphew's, has she detailed with a minuteness, an accuracy, a prodigality of learning, a profuseness of proper names, a pendantry of locality, which would excite the envy of a county historian, a king-at-arms, or even a Scotch novelist.

  • The bad thing about living in a small town was that everything became a personal issue. The good thing about living in a small town was that everything became a personal issue. During times of trouble, the support system was massive.

  • Everybody in Maycomb, it seemed, had a Streak: a Drinking Streak, a Gambling Streak, a Mean Streak, a Funny Streak.

  • It takes a small town to keep you humble.

  • Now, in this town, you have to putter over a thing, even the slightest, a month. The powers that evolved the cabbage apple-pie in the morning, and executed it in the evening, are here unknown quantities.

    • Susan Hale,
    • letter (1868), in Caroline P. Atkinson, ed., Letters of Susan Hale ()
  • [On Bellingham, Washington:] I once read where 'the mass of men live lives of quiet desperation' — and until you've lived in a little town like this you'll never know what desperation can be. Everybody is searching for something to do.

  • They had not much original wit, but had inherited a stock of cheerful sayings which passed as such.

  • 'My word! An' 'aven't she got a nerve!' they would say of anyone who expected more than was reasonable.

  • Nobody gets packed off to the insane asylum in Our Town. Dotty people are just accepted, and everybody watches them and takes care of them because everybody knows the ones who really need watching are the people who are supposed to be all right.

  • I was raised in a small town. It was so small that our school taught driver's education and sex education in the same car.

  • We're people with a strong sense of community, and being dead is no impediment to belonging to it. We won't forget you just because you've up and died. We may even like you better and visit you more often.

    • Gayden Metcalfe,
    • in Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays, Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral ()
  • People in small towns instinctively want to help each other through a crisis. In good times, you're always complaining that everybody knows your business. In bad times, you know that the covered dishes are on the way.

    • Gayden Metcalfe,
    • in Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays, Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral ()