Hello, Jolene Navarro checking in from the Texas Hill Country. I love life in a small town. People know people. They know who your grandmother was, your second cousins and siblings. You belong. You have a history. You’re part of a story. You know why the locals call the intersection at HWY 46 and Herff Rd. Sheep Dip Crossing.
On a sad note, the newbies in town give you a blank stare if your direction includes Sheep Dip Crossing or “where Poorboys use to be.” I’m guessing in the next couple of generations the terms will be gone for our local vocabulary.
The thing that can drive you straight out of the small town? People know people. This means they know your grandmother, parents, your cousin… well, you get the picture. People remember you as a teenager, and all the stupid senseless stuff you want to forget. They really know your family members. There is no glossing over or hiding the crazy. Remember the time when…..can leave you on the edge of your seat and glancing around to see if your kids are near. And sometimes they say that and you really have no memory of the incident. So you have to decide to fake it and laugh or start an argument because you know it never happened.
There are different levels of small towns. Places like Leakey, Texas with less than 400 people and one main street. It is also the kind of town I love writing about, generations of ranchers and business owners. One street light. Pre-school to twelfth graders are on the same school campus. The Friday night lights are a town event. The community is strong. A church on every corner (mainly because someone had a disagreement so they started a new church). Not a great deal has changed there over the years, expect the path of the river with each flood.
This is one of two that I claim as my hometowns because my great-great grandparents settled there and my parents met and married there. It’s also the place I met my love (during homecoming) and married him. We moved back and lived there when our first two children were little. I love this beautiful valley in the Texas Hill Country. My husband’s family has started on the fourth generations now. It will always be home. Go Eagles!
Then you have small towns like Boerne, Texas. When I started school there in 1979, there was one high school, one middle school and an elementary or two. No chain restaurant or fast food. The grocery store and pharmacy were owned by local families. The owners of the restaurants called you by name.
We rode our horses to the General Store where you could hear people speaking in a mix of English, German and Spanish. Today Boerne is going through growing pains. Being north of San Antonio, it is in the fastest growing area in the United States. People love having the Main Street USA feel of the small town with the convenience of one of the biggest cities.
The family-owned businesses when you drive down Main Street the family-owned businesses are gone. For the sake of convenience, the big box stores have staked a claim along the highway, forcing the mom and pop shops to close or redefine themselves.
I write the small towns from my childhood. That’s one of my favorite things about writing. I get to create the world as I want it and I get to right wrongs. I write romance because I get to go through the journey of self-discovery and the struggle of growth. Each character learning to give everything to God. A lesson I seem to need to learn over and over again. And of course, we are promised a happy ending.