Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Slice of Americana

The older I get the more aware I become of how laid back and old fashioned this part of the country can be. While it occasionally bothers me that things can be so slow or attitudes can sometimes be less than open minded around here, I truly love this region and the people who live here. I love the excitement of a big city and the travel associated with it, but I am most comfortable in the small towns that dot this landscape. They are full of good people who work hard with no desire to be famous and no expectations of great wealth. Where being rich means having a bumper crop of corn or owning your own piece of land. Where watermelon and homemade ice cream are the preferred desserts. Where life is measured in smiles instead of dollars. Small towns remind me of the place where I grew up, and there is comfort in that.

Last Friday, the Hula-gen’s made a quick trip to the Kentucky-Tennessee state line to buy fireworks. Most fireworks are illegal in Kentucky, and you have to cross into Tennessee to get the big stuff. The rest of the Hula-gen’s are not happy unless they’ve made me worry half my life away each Independence Day that one of them will lose an arm or head shooting off large tubes of gunpowder. It’s all I can do to watch them light those things, but I learned a long time ago I cannot stop them, so I just say twelve Hail Mary’s before they start and keep my cell phone close at hand in case I have to call 9-1-1. In preparation for our annual Scare Hula Fest we drove an hour south to get the goods.

The store we go to sits right over the state line at the edge of a little town named Hazel. While Hubby and Teen Angel picked out the pyrotechnics I wandered the street of Hazel. I say street because the town literally stretches in length for one long block. Two if you count the lot where the fruit stand sits.

While there are a few side streets, most everything in Hazel is contained in that little length of street between the railroad tracks and the Baptist church.

I love that little town. It hasn’t changed much over the last fifty years, except most of the stores have been turned into antique shops. It has two soda fountains, and one gas station. The old fire truck sits outside on sunny days because it looks nice.

The water tower is the tallest thing in town. Flags and lanterns line the street, even when it’s not the Fourth of July.
And benches sit in front of just about every store, begging you to sit a while and watch the dogs go by.
The water department is closed from noon until 1pm each day for lunch, but there is a drop box for payments. Sort of.

The fanciest restaurant looks like this, and I swear I think of Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher when I look at that place.

The other restaurant in town is a diner where we’ve eaten many times.

You see, Papa T. grew up a few miles down the road on a large farm that stayed in his family until his mother died a few years ago. He used to go to the U-Tote-Em grocery store in Hazel for staples, but most everything else they ate was raised on the farm. We’ve stopped in Hazel many times on the way to the farm.

I think one of the things I like most about Hazel is the tall curbs. Ever been to a town with tall curbs? It has an old timey feel to it. Those curbs send me back to my childhood and times spent “uptown” at the Ben Franklin Dime Store and the Western Auto. Hazel reminds me of where I grew up, and there is comfort in that.


Janis said...

You just can't beat small towns when it comes to charm. I feel the same way about our little town of Hanover. Although its much bigger then your little town of Hazel. Great photos.

M.E. said...

I love small towns and your photos tell such a good story. Thanks for sharing!

The Church Lady said...

I love living in a small town, even though I refer to it as "hickville". We have one gas station/convenience store and a post office. I would not want to live in a big city for anything.

Teachinfourth said...

I love the small town feel…your photos did it justice.

BTW, I stumbled here via someone's sidebar - I can't remember which one.

A New England Life said...

Hazel is definitely a town that makes up the heart of America. You captured it well too. Love your photos!

I grew up in a small town also. One where we walked or rode our bikes to the local country store for penny candy, or a banana popsicle. Something my own kids will never know.

the parishioner who doesn't do anything said...

Check out Journals for Christa (Tuesday, July 7, 2009). It's about uptown and Grandma. I think you'll like it. Sure enjoyed this entry--of course, I enjoy them all.

jdmsmith said...

I love your photos. Your perspective is great! Reminded me of my small town! Perfect!

Tracey said...

I really love the firetruck - beautiful small town!

karen gunton said...

what a fantastic set of photos. i love their simplicity and the story they tell. =)

Dena said...

I agree, the small town feel can't be beat. The pictures are great!

Hollie said...

Great shots! My fav is the fire engine!

My Photographic Eye by Irela said...

Love your story....put me right there in your town. Thanks for sharing. Beautiful :)