I’ve mentioned before that small towns creep me out and/or sadden me. This is still largely true, but small towns such as Glasgow threaten that notion of mine.
The town story for the October issue of Missouri Life is about Glasgow, Missouri. It’s a town of just over one thousand people along the Missouri River that Missouri Life editor Jonas Weir and myself literally passed by in a matter of minutes. But we would have been the ones missing out if we had truly passed this gem by.
A somewhat sudden turn on the right and we were on the main street, aptly named First Street. It was morning and neither Jonas nor myself had eaten breakfast, so the first necessary stop was at Riverbend Cafe, conveniently owned by the town’s mayor. When one hears the word “mayor”, the image of a staunch businessman with a crisp suit comes to mind. He would have a solemn voice and serious demeanor, and use words such as “ordinance.” But the diner owner that came from behind the counter seemed just that, a diner owner. His t-shirt and jeans more than suggested a casual air, and he greeted us with a friendly and easy-going voice that said he was more our equal than a political official.
After a conversation with the mayor, we made our way to all of the local sites. Perry’s for a quick ice cream, the Glasgow museum, the library, the Rolling Pin bakery, Glasgow Trading Post, and Henderson’s Drug Store. Each place seemed more historic than the last, but there were renovated buildings with newer businesses that suggested a recent revival in the town.
A few different townsfolk said that Glasgow was in a state of disrepair not too long ago. The First Street shop windows were vacant and boarded up and the life seemed to be draining from the struggling town. But somehow the people rallied and Glasgow was the better for it.
Each citizen we spoke to say their reason for staying in Glasgow was because of the people. No one is a stranger in Glasgow. Small town courtesy and friendliness seems to be true in this case; it’s not so uncommon to ask a neighbor for a cup of sugar. I find that refreshing. Business owners spoke of the people not as customers, but as supporters of their livelihood. The townspeople want to help out the local businesses, which is probably why there are hardly any chains in Glasgow. The nearest Wal Mart is in Boonville, and you’ll find no golden arches even on the outskirts of town.
The camaraderie is striking; even compared to a very small city such as the one I grew up in, Columbia, Missouri. I don’t know my neighbors, and there isn’t a cashier at the grocery store that I could name. I can’t help but think the whole world would be a bit better off with some small town loving. It reminds you that the people who serve you, who live next to you, and who are the bosses above you are all humans, and they all have stories to tell and secrets to keep.
It was a humbling experience. Despite my “city girl” upbringing, great education, and travel experience, I in fact had not seen it all. I had not seen pure contentedness before I went to Glasgow. I certainly had not seen it over an entire town. Small towns need not breed morose emotions. They have great potential to connect us to others, and can inspire passion in your livelihood and home. There’s a general feeling around Glasgow, which makes the people refreshed and the air easier to breathe. It keeps the local businesses open and the franchises at bay. It’s called respect, and we could all use a bit more of it.