Small Town Story

Like a dream come true, Al & I recently moved north to a small town an hour or so  from Detroit. Like so many small towns all over the country, downtown retailers struggle to survive, while big box stores and chain restaurants pop up just a jump on the freeway away. Who doesn’t love Target and Panera?

My new town was incorporated in 1827. We have historic public buildings, even pretty  Victorian houses, that have survived all these years. Many small farms and apple orchards remain intact.

Things could go either way for my new town: we could become the kind of community with a thriving downtown like Royal Oak or Rochester, or we could stand by helplessly as shop after shop closes, historic building after historic building gets boarded up or torn down. That almost happened here many years ago to our Octagon House, but the community stepped in to save it.

I have always loved reading novels set in small towns, where people have deep community roots and take pride in their history. I’ve never lived in a small town, however, until now. The downtown area is currently getting a little  make-over, adding a center turning lane to the two lane road. When all that is finished, I plan to spend time and money in my little downtown and hope it survives.

But life is not a romance novel and not every small town story has a happy ending. Which makes it even more important for me to keep my Blue Heaven characters and their small town intact. Working on the second and third novels in this new series makes me feel, however illogically, that in some way, I’m keeping the small town spirit alive.

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  1. Oh, please please join in with anything you can to help keep your small town-ness alive! We don’t want them to disappear from the map of the world! You would LOVE Cromer, where I used to live by the sea – the church originates from about the 16th century (with many add-ons), and there are still lots of little shops – a proper tobacconist, fishmongers, small hardware shops – that don’t exist in larger towns. You have to use these places to keep them alive – don’t go to the nearest retail park, even if it’s a bit cheaper!!! One of the things I loved when I first moved there was going to all the different shops to buy things, just a short walk from our house, instead of the soulless drag through a huge supermarket for everything. It keeps the spirit of the town alive, too. I envy you…!!

    Northampton, where I lived most of my life and moved from in 2000, was wrecked by people not doing enough to preserve the town’s history. There was a fabulous old Victorian shopping arcade which was torn down in 1972 to make way for a monstrosity. You can’t get them back!


  2. I’m with you, Terry. You can’t get it back. The English are much better at preserving their historical sites than we are here in the USA. We tear everything down. But that hasn’t happened here yet and I pray it won’t.


  3. I’m so happy for you, Cindy, that you’re getting to experience some small-town living. I feel like I have the best of both worlds as I live just 15 minutes from downtown Seattle, but in a smaller town called Burien that has a vibrant “Olde Town” section of shops and restaurants. Because of Burien’s location (we hit the water so can’t build out!), it’s not a pass-through commuter town like others are that are along the freeway corridor. We’re just kind of off to the side, doing our own thing. But I agree, it’s hard to keep it thriving and it hurts to see small businesses close. I’m glad things are on the post-recession upswing and hopefully that will keep these small town shops going strong. Keep spending your money at them! Sometimes I buy on Amazon, yes, but I often go “to the shops” (how very British of me, hey? Ha!).


  4. Ah, I’d rather live in your town. My son lives in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle:) It’s a big city, but each neighborhood has its own character, it’s own shops and pizza joints, its own bars. It almost has the feel of a small town within a large city:)


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