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Happiness is a Small Town

small town morse texas

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.

small town playground morse texas
The “dangerous” playground

Be Flexible

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.

dip sign morse texas country roads
Where all the world’s problems are solved

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.

watching parade morse texas 1987
Catching a parade in 1987 with cousins


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:




16 thoughts on “Happiness is a Small Town

  1. I love this so much! Our little town is such an amazing place to live!

    1. Thanks, love. I’m jealous that you still get to call it home!

  2. Mikala!! You said it perfectly!

    1. Thanks so much, Julie! Truly nothing like it!

  3. Wow . Mikala thats really good. We had a good time when we would all get together. We did have fun. Made up things just to have fun. It was only our familys and more , now there is probably more kids in morse texas . The good ole time are always the best. Great job Mikala.

    1. Thanks, Haley! There’s still lots of kids running around there, but it was best when we were there I’d like to say. 😉 Such a fun way to grow up. Thanks for reading!

  4. I had some fabulous years in Morse. It’s the place from my childhood I miss the most. When I went to school there we had 1st through 12th grades in the same building. There were also three churches, one where my daddy was the preacher. The Kelly’s had a pool and we often swam in the tank at the Park’s house. I haven’t been ‘home’ since 1998, but it’s on my bucket list. In fact, that’s the only thing on that list.

    1. So great! I am kin to the Kellys (my grandma is Maxine Dortch), but the pool wasn’t in service when I was a kid. Last I knew, it was still there! The Parks’ are still around too. I go back often as my family is still there and it never really changes. You should get back soon! It will always have my heart. Thanks for sharing, I always love knowing more about Morse.

  5. Loved Morse as a little girl. My daddy was raised there. My family is Henderson Parks of the original settlers in the area. My grandmother, Besse Henderson was the only schoolteacher there for years. My cousins still live there. My cousin Lynn Parks posted this for us to see. I know they love it. Great article.

    1. I always love knowing more about the town, thanks for sharing! The Parks have always been good to us. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. 🙂

  6. Great article : Growing up in Morse was a different experience than most have for sure. My class was in 8th grade in 1977. Graduation was 6 boys 1 girl. We all drove our parents vehicles to Baptist group on Wed night then sometimes we jumped them over the railroad tressell out by the dump ground. Most of us were farmers kids or worked for a farmer so we learned a good work ethic growing up in Morse.

    1. You’re absolutely right! Thanks for the story.. I know my parents have some adventures they probably haven’t told me about yet. The trestle was torn down years back, I always loved it. Thanks for taking the time to read!

  7. Such a great place to raise our three kids!!! In fact I kinda of grew up there too!!! Since we married when I was seventeen it was home for many years!!!
    The best people. All really country folks.
    Still love it.
    Wonderful article Mikala!!!

    1. Thank you so much, Jeannie! I’m sad my kids don’t get to grow up there but I’m glad we get to visit often. It’s a special place!

  8. Enjoyed reading this. Brought back some memories. Although I didn’t get to run and Morse with the Morse kids unless I stayed the night with a friend. Living in Pringle and surrounding area, I had a couple cousins and a brother to be friends with outside of school. Still did Most of the things you town kids did though. I’m pretty sure that Pringle was the only town with an old gym owned by a farmer that let us kids play basketball. That was, around the farm equipment that was stored in there. Using the excuse that your dad NEEDED a Dr.Pepper on the tractor so you could drive a go cart down dirt roads to take him one and go for a ride. Take your fishing pole too because your going to pass that pond on the way home. Good times. Good time

    1. We still claim you as one of ours, Jason. 🙂
      Pringle was a whole other adventure in itself. Glad you can relate! Miss those times so much.

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