Things I Think About While Riding

Things I Think About While Riding

Do kids who live in rural areas (the kind of towns where houses are like a half a mile apart) go trick or treating?

While riding in Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois I’ve been encountering long stretches of road with sparse housing, especially in farming areas. It makes me wonder what life is like for children that don’t have immediate neighbors. Of course my NY-metro suburbanite is showing when I ask such things but I really have no idea.

I wonder too if easy access to the world at large via the internet makes small town kids more inclined to want to get away from their surroundings. The whole world is right at their fingertips, every second of every day. There was a time when they didn’t know what they were missing unless they saw it on TV or in a book. But now it’s everywhere, especially with social sharing.

Maybe seeing all that makes them want to stay put all the more.

Today I met a man in Metropolis, Illinois who had moved away from town 30 years earlier. He recently returned after his wife of 40 years divorced him. He told me he wants nothing to do with city life. He just wants to buy a few acres in the country and have some horses. “I can take or leave the city,” he said. “I go the grocery store then get the hell out.”

I guess there are no concrete answers. Except for maybe on that trick or treat thing.

4 Replies to “Things I Think About While Riding”

  1. JONATHAN HOUGHTON

    There is the caw of a crow,
    And the hesitant song of a thrush.
    There is the tinkle of a cowbell far away,
    And the voice of a plowman on Shipley’s hill.
    The forest beyond the orchard is still
    With midsummer stillness;
    And along the road a wagon chuckles,
    Loaded with corn, going to Atterbury.
    And an old man sits under a tree asleep,
    And an old woman crosses the road,
    Coming from the orchard with a bucket of blackberries.
    And a boy lies in the grass
    Near the feet of the old man,
    And looks up at the sailing clouds,
    And long, and longs, and longs
    For what, he knows not:
    For manhood, for life, for the unknown world!
    Then thirty years passed,
    And the boy returned worn out by life
    And found the orchard vanished,
    And the forest gone,
    And the house made over,
    And the roadway filled with dust from automobiles—
    And himself desiring The Hill!

    from Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters

  2. Take a close look at a lot of the small towns out west and I think you will have your answer. They are drying up and have few residents. The towns I have been in had almost no residents that were older than 18 and younger than say 40. It seemed to me that once they got out of high school they left, presumably because they wanted more than they thought their town could offer. Jobs may have quite a bit to do with it as well.

    By the way, I made that observation about 35 years ago when visiting my grand parents in Mooreland OK, a small town near the panhandle of OK. On a recent trip I had noticed they had torn down the old Ford dealership. I do not recall it ever being open.

    Regarding your original question, my mother said she never went trick or treating until they moved from the farm into town. And then she was either 16 or 18 (I forget) and was too old so she did not get any candy.

  3. In my little town, which is actually only 25 miles from the White House but feels like Mayberry, the parents bring the little ones into the town to trick or treat, working the immediate side streets. This results in us having hundreds of visitors that night, but the town also collectively accepts candy donations in Oct at the General Store and then distributes a bag of it to the nearby homes like mine. I love my small town living, after growing up on Long Island.

  4. I have no idea about the trick or treat thing, but I used to wonder that in West Virginia. Rural life is quite different.

    It’s sad to me to see abandoned houses/towns or communities declining in population. Lack of industry/jobs is a factor for sure. I’m sure some kids may yearn to see some excitement, but I tend to lean toward the, “Maybe seeing all that makes them want to stay put all the more.” It’s a crazy world.

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