Where did you grow up? Small town or Big City?
Small Town, USA
I could tell you a thousand lies about where I grew up, but I do not feel that I should try to deceive you. Therefore, I will tell you the truth. Most of the time, I feel that I grew up in the depths of hell, but there are other times, I feel that I grew up in a happy place.
The fact of the matter is that I grew up in a very small town deep in the heart of Texas. As a child, the town had a resident population of approximately 2,500 people, and I knew each and every one. Although we were only 2,500 strong, we were the county seat and the largest town for 60 miles south, 92 miles west, and 100 miles north, much further east. I lived in a smaller town 10 miles to the west when I was first born, but I was born in the county seat and spent most of my childhood there.
I am a great-great grandchild to two of the three original families that settled the town. The three Irish families took a wagon train from Ohio to Texas in 1848. As a child, I was kin to most of the residents in the town one way or another. For a matter-of-fact, I believe I am kin to half of the county now.
The area I grew up in is a farm area with some oil field work. There were three types of people in my small town. 1. Those who worked the farms and owned the farms. 2. Those who worked in the oilfield. 3. Those who worked in the local stores and businesses. My father started off working the farms with his father as a child. They were day laborers, not farm owners. However, he went to work in the oil field when he became an adult, and he never went back to farm work.
The wealthier children in school were children of farm owners or business owners, most of which were related to farm owners. The rest of the town lived at or below the poverty line. I grew up being called oilfield trash, white trash, and many other hateful words. I would sit in the corner crying because the boys in my school could be so cruel. Most of the girls were nice regardless of their socio-economic status. One boy, in particular, teased me on a daily basis. His family happened to be one of the wealthiest farm families in the region. Everyday, this boy called me oilfield trash, and every day, from kindergarten to sixth grade, I cried.
Because our school was guilty of tracking the students, I was in class with my nemesis every single year. In sixth grade, I started thinking about how miserable the boy had made my school career, and I grew tired of the constant torment. He walked by my desk, knocked my book in the floor and bent over to call me "oilfield trash" as he picked up my book. The book was an excuse to get on my level, so I would hear the degrading insult. The picking the book up was so the other students and teacher were unaware that he was actually being mean. I stood up from my desk and yelled, "If it wasn't for people like my dad, your family would still be using horse driven plows!"
I was immediately sent to the principal's office and disciplined by paddling for disrupting the class. The boy did not stop teasing me, but I did not let him bother me as much as I had before sixth grade. That was up until tenth grade when I was punished after slapping him for calling my sister crazy and my mother a whore. I knew that my sister had mental issues, but I did not understand them. Often, I would be the first to call her crazy because I was not educated on bipolar disorder, and I truly believed that she was able to control her actions and her behaviors. I know now that she could not.
As for my mother, my father and she had split up. This was no surprise to any of us that knew my parents. They had always argued and fought with one another. They did eventually get back together, and they never stopped loving one another. They just needed time apart as they had been married when my mother was still a child, 16 years old. Rest assured, my mother was not a whore. She was a nursing student working hard doing her internship in the next town over.
Anyway, I did love my town too. I loved that I could go anywhere, and I was not a stranger. I loved that I could walk from one end of town to the other in twenty minutes. I loved that all of my grandparents lived in the area, and I could see them whenever I wanted to. I loved that when I wanted to run away, Grandma's house was not that far to walk. I loved that I could go swimming at the local pool every day except for Monday during the summers. I loved that there were so many neighbors willing to allow me to do odd jobs and babysit their children for a little extra money. I loved that no matter where I went, I felt safe. I loved my school most of all.
Although I had the bullying throughout the years, most of my peers were nice to me. Most of us were raised together. We would take turns hanging out with one another, and we would take turns throwing slumber parties. I was never as cool as the other girls because I was one of the biggest nerds in the school. I loved creative writing, and I loved math. Numbers and computers were what I got, and I often understood them more than human nature. I actually received awards for my math and computer skills. I was a band geek and became the drum major my senior year of high school. I was in the district band and regional band, and I often received medals in UIL band competitions. I was also the president of the pep squad, played basketball, and ran track. I never took homemaking, as I was in 4-H and learned how to cook and sew there. I took shop class my senior year and built my father a wooden tool box. I competed yearly in the talent shows and was often cast a leading role in plays due to my memorization skills. I think the best thing about going to a small school is that the students get the opportunity to try everything that they want, so they can truly know their individual talents and abilities.
Every year, my town put on the Wild Horse Pioneer Days. We would ride horses in the parade and join in the rodeo festivities including the dances. I love to dance and had been attending local dances since I was a little girl. I looked forward to the yearly fair and competed in the fair queen contest throughout my high school years. Our town was really big on parades as well. We had a parade for the Wild Horse Pioneer Days, a parade for the fair, and a parade for Christmas. I, of course, was in each parade because of band, GA's, 4-H, Girl Scouts, or the church choir. One year, I rode on a friend's float for her mother's local western store.
Every Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas, a stranger to town would swear they were in the middle of a Shirley Jackson story had they driven through the downtown area of town. Every resident would be crowded into the street for the grocery store drawings. They gave out cash prizes and gift certificates for local stores. If you shopped in the small grocery store, you would receive a ticket for every so many dollars you spent. We would chase after the people handing out free hard candies and climb upon Santa's lap to fill his head full of our wishes and dreams. Afterwards, we would return to our heated homes, or travel sixty miles south to the 'big city' (I often laugh when I think about how big the city was when I was a child. I know, now, that the 'big city' really is not that big. It is where I live and am raising my children.)
What I liked about my home town, I hated as well. It was small. I could not do anything without anyone knowing about it. The children, young adults, and adults in the town do not seem to have any privacy, as many people gossip, spread rumors, and make your business their business. As I grew older, I grew to yearn to be free of the pain and sorrow that stifled me. I have visited my hometown on many occasions since I left it behind 23 years ago. I only attended one homecoming game, as it was made quite clear to me by a couple of my old classmates that I no longer belonged there.
I did move from the town in the middle of my senior year. It was no choice of my own. My mom was ill and in the hospital, and there was no money for the rent. We had been evicted from our apartment, and the only place I had to go was my father's home almost 100 miles west. I am sad to say that I no longer fee that the town I was born and raised in I no longer consider my home. Most of my family members have moved far, far way, and there does not seem to be anything in that tiny Texas town for me anymore.