I grew up in a dusty small town in Texas. A town with no population sign, no mayor, no blinking light, and only two gas pumps.
Morse, TX. Home.
The thing is, I wouldn’t have it any other way. You see, I learned valuable lessons growing up in a dirt-road town. I curated valuable friendships. I made valuable memories. And sure, you can do that anywhere, but I think it’s a little different when you grow up in a place with just 150 other souls (and a whole lotta livestock.)
City folks just can’t relate, and that’s fine. They had three times as many people in their graduating classes than lived in my town. How could they get it?
There are lessons to be learned no matter where you grew up, but here are the valuable ones the small town life has taught me.
You Have to Make Your Own Fun
We had no swimming pool, no movie theatres, no bowling alleys.. just a couple of parks. One of them had a metal slide that probably should’ve been outlawed years ago, one swing, and a merry-go-round that gave you splinters. We rode bikes EVERYWHERE. Us girls made up these epic little adventures and probably trespassed a few times. We rarely had a screen in front of our faces, and when we did it was PBS after school or Saturday morning cartoons.. back when they were worth watching. We didn’t have a quick fix when we were bored. I’m thankful for that.
We lived 30 minutes from the nearest Walmart or big grocery store, and 90 minutes away from Target or pretty much any other shopping. Looking back now, I realize what a pain it was for my mom to grocery shop. Living in the city, I can run literally around the corner and have what I need. Or I could just have it brought to my door in less than two hours (I do love my Amazon Prime). She had to plan so far ahead to keep us all fed and happy. If you needed something in a pinch, you’d have to ask your neighbor. Yes, in my town, neighbors talk to each other. 🙂
Nothing Works Unless You Do
Now, I can’t claim that I was always the hardest worker growing up. However, I do remember helping feed horses at the tender age of two, riding with my grandpa on the combine at five, and driving various farm vehicles by 12. I would have to slowly inch the truck forward while my dad pulled the pipe off of the trailer. I witnessed people working sun up till sun down and even after that. Hard physical labor too.. there’s no desk jobs where I’m from.
You Have Tons of Freedom (But Also Not)
I got to drive well before 16, and no one batted an eye. If you were doing something bad (not me), your parents would know before you had time to come up with a story. If you were minding your own business, then no harm. We spent so many hours talking about our fake husbands (at that time Tom Cruise, JTT, and Troy Aikman were tops in my circle). You could find us at the house where all our bikes were thrown haphazardly in the front yard. You could walk down the middle of any street without a care. Many of the old people, my grandparents included, would spoil you with cokes and candy bars and your parents were none the wiser.
Terms Only a Native Would Understand
The Dip. Tom’s. Key Pump. The Trestle. “Going to Town.” Cougar Power. Your epidermis is showing. The Y.
School Can Be Fun
Yep, my small town has a grade school. It used to have a high school. My graduating class had eight people in it, the grade below me had one. Here’s the thing though, we got to do SO many unique projects because there weren’t a million kids running around vying for our teacher’s attention. We had the best parties, the best programs, the best sports opportunities. Singing the school song on our last mile back into town because we had to travel hours for all our games. Heck through a few of my years, they had home-cooked food in the cafeteria. Many times our teachers would put down the lesson plans and teach us real-life lessons. I truly had the most amazing, creative teachers. These days, people bus their kids in from surrounding cities to get their education here. Not to mention, the Halloween Carnival and its cake walk is still the best in Texas as far as I’m concerned.
Friendships are Authentic
You were friends with everyone because this was all you had, so you made it work.. and they turned into the best people ever. The last time I was home, I ran into two of my eighth grade classmates and we talked like real friends do. I’m in touch with dozens of my Morse classmates. We just all get that small town life. It never leaves you! There was literally no judgment among my friends. (Although maybe they should’ve told me I wore too much Mickey Mouse for a middle schooler). I could go to school everyday not worrying if people were going to judge my appearance. Sure, there were some love triangles, but everything always worked out and we were all friends again the next day. You had to resolve your differences quickly because there weren’t many others to talk to! We also welcomed anyone in with open arms. I’m thankful for all of these people for teaching me what genuine is.
Simple Joys are the Best Joys
Have you ever slept on a trampoline in the middle of the country? Or been able to see every star in the galaxy? Have you swam in a stock tank and burned your legs getting in? Do you know what a stock tank is? Have you sat on a tailgate for hours with your best friend and talked about your future? Have you driven up and down Main Street with the sole objective being just to see your crush? Do you know the name of everyone in your neighborhood? Do you get stuck behind tractors on the highway? Or wave to everyone you see? Watched a parade that had more participants than people watching and lasted 3 minutes? Have you drank out of a water hose on a sweltering summer day? Welcome to Small Town, USA.
Party Planners’ Paradise
I tell you what, if you have a big life-changing event happening in your life, you’ll find the best party planners in small towns. Bridal shower, baby shower, graduation party, you name it. They put together these beautiful celebrations for those they have nurtured through the years. Everyone is family here, so everyone is invited and everyone is so genuinely happy for you. And the food, oh the food.. no one does a potluck like a small town southern Baptist church. I’ve yet to have that yumminess replicated anywhere else in my life.
Do you see why growing up in a small town is something I boast about? I’m so thankful for the experiences, the lessons, and the ability to apply those to the way I raise my babies. I can’t give them the small town (yet) but I can give them a good healthy dose of small town values because those are something that no one can take away.
To Show Your Morse Pride: