I grew up in the rural town of Macon, Missouri, with a population of a little more than 5,000. I attended Macon R-1 School District for elementary school, middle school, and high school — all in one building — and I graduated with a class of almost 100 students. Some people wouldn’t last a day in a town like mine: a rural area with one school, no shopping outlets, as many restaurants as there are fingers on your hand, and an “everybody knows everybody’s business” kind of society. Even though I have a desire to travel the world and see what is out there, when someone says, “Home Sweet Home,” Macon, Missouri, is what comes to my mind.
Transitioning to college was not difficult for me. Columbia is tremendously more urban than Macon, but I quickly adjusted and have continued to do just fine living in the “city.” During my first couple of weeks, it became apparent that a good portion of the Mizzou population hails from urban areas such as Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City. It does not surprise me that those people don’t know where Macon is, but I am still mind-boggled on the number of people that have never even heard of Moberly, Missouri.
“Oh my gosh! Do people actually wear cowgirl boots?” These were among the first words that Katie Louis, my next-door neighbor in my dorm, said to me when we met. At first, I did not know how to react, but after learning Louis is from St. Louis, I realized our viewpoints on cowgirl boots were due to our different upbringings.
“I have never been camping, fishing or hunting,” Louis said. “Honestly, if I were stranded by myself for a few days, I really don’t think I would survive.”
Louis attended a high school with almost as many students as there are people in my hometown. In the part of St. Louis where she comes from, there are multiple shopping centers, dozens of restaurants to choose from, clubs and bars, and places where popular concerts are held.
“I don’t know how people live in small towns where there is nothing to do at all,” Louis said. “That would drive me crazy, because there is always something going on in my hometown.”
Small-town folks are well-rounded individuals who simply experienced a different culture than those who grew up in large cities. Even if we do not necessarily prefer it, many of us smoothly make the transition from living in rural areas to urban. It doesn’t always seem as easy for “city folk” to go the other direction. They are too used to their urban life to last even a day out in the “boondocks.”
Katie Louis and I have become great friends, despite the initial conversation about cowgirl boots. Meeting her, as well as other people from big cities, has made me realize how much I value my small-town background.
I appreciate where I come from and where I grew up. Even with the disadvantages — there is not a lot to do,. it can be boring at times, and can be a nuisance when you find that everyone knows your business —when times are tough,, I can assure you the community will come together to help you get through the most difficult situations.
A few weeks ago, a sudden tragedy occurred to a much-loved young woman that affected the entire Macon community. Despite the pain, the community has done everything in its power to pull together.
“I was in awe at the amount of people that showed up at my sister’s visitation,” said Chalee Britt, junior at Macon High School.
Not everyone knew Britt’s sister, but when tragedies happen in small towns, people find out and are willing to help pick up the pieces.
“I am blessed to live in a place where so many people care,” Britt said.
Those 5,000 people who live around Macon, in my opinion, are the very best people. People who will wave at you when they see you in town, or will shake your hand and start a conversation, just to be friendly. People who will help out in any way or will support you in a time of need. Nothing, not even all the big and beautiful cities combined together, could beat that small town, “family” feeling.