15 Signs You Grew Up in Rural America

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Recently I got to spend a little time in the town where I grew up. My hometown of John Day, OR is a 2.5 hour drive from… well just about anything. Today I live exactly 2,636.5 miles from my hometown, but I wouldn’t have wanted to grow up anywhere else. Today I take a stroll down memory lane and share 15 signs that you too, may have grown up in rural America.

1. You were involved in EVERYTHING

You were on the FFA Officer Team, a proud member of 4-H, played a minimum of one varsity sport (but probably played all of them because the team needed players!) served on student council and you were involved in whatever clubs your high school offered. All of them. Plus, there really wasn’t that much to do where you lived, so being involved was just fine with you.

2. Town Sports were are LIFE.

When I was in high school our football team beat another town that we hadn’t beaten in decades. Old men cried. I’m 100% serious. When we won the state championship? Full police escort back in to town. Lights and sirens in the middle of the night that I’m pretty sure some people did not appreciate. Who am I kidding? Most of the town was on the rooter bus right behind us.

3. Grocery Store Meetups.

When you live in a small town in the middle of nowhere with only one grocery store, you cannot just go grab some milk without running into your high school principle, the girl who used to babysit you when you were little, your friend’s mom, etc. A trip to the grocery store in sweatpants is a risk, because you never know who you might see.

5. There are No Secrets

Everyone knows everyone’s business. The end.

6. It’s beautiful.

You call it “God’s Country.” Wherever you little piece of the middle of nowhere is, it’s most likely gorgeous as most off the beaten path places are. Mine? Check out that pretty mountain range in the photo above.

7. Kids Miss School for things like Wheat Harvest and Hunting Season and That’s Okay.

My mom is an elementary teacher in the small town I grew up in. This school year she had to let kids leave early because they had to go to a cattle sale and that was just fine with her.

8. You have a “Spot”

For my little town it was the Dairy Queen. Located on the intersection that is home to the only stoplight in Grant County (a county with a landmass bigger than the state of Rhode Island), it was a prime people watching and people gathering place. Everyone went there after every big football game, basketball game, Young Life night, or just to hang out. In fact, there was even a couple who had their Prom dinner date out on the corner in front of the dairy queen one year.

9. You know people by their cars and everyone waves.

It’s just rude if you don’t lift at least two fingers and do a quick head nod when you pass another vehicle but most often you know exactly who is behind the wheel before you can see a face. If they are a close friend, you’re honking at them for sure.

10. Your Graduating Class was Tiny

Like two people tiny. I grew up near a town that some years didn’t even have a graduating class. Personally I graduated with a whopping 42.

11. Stoplights are optional.

Your town may not have one. In my small town, we were home to the only stoplight in the county, but the light only ran from 6:00 a.m. in the morning until 9:00 at night. All other hours it just blinked yellow.

12. You can’t buy anything after 9:00 PM or on Sundays

Get a hankering for Ice Cream at 10:00 PM? Too bad because everything within a 1.5 hour drive is closed. Want to get coffee Sunday morning at 10:00 AM? Good luck with that one because everyone is at church.

13. Most people have never heard of your town.

And when they ask “Well what big town is it near?” there really isn’t a point of reference to give them that’s close enough. So you settle for saying you are from an area or town that is miles and miles away from where you really live.

14. No one ever locks their car.

Even at the busiest place in town (which is normally the grocery store or church) most people just leave the keys in the ignition. It’s easier that way.

15. You still love it.

It doesn’t matter if you moved miles away or came right back after college or never left. It’s a little piece of heaven that you’ll always consider home.


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