When I picture small-town America, I often think of Norman Rockwell and his illustrations that appeared on the covers of the Saturday Evening Post. I smile thinking of the classic Chevy Chase movie “Funny Farm,” in which the small-town theme is so brilliantly played out.
I believe small-town America still exists today, but in little pockets here and there. Here in Tracy, people are keeping that feeling alive with mom-and-pop stores and the seasonal farmers markets.
Community groups still come together to help those in need, and people still want to shake the hand of their local leaders. Coffee shops serve as a meeting place, and the local paper keeps folks connected.
I’m not the only one who thinks so.
"To me, small-town America is like old-school values," said LeAnn Tavares, a Tracy resident. "It's more about community involvement, like something you would see on television. Where everyone is still willing to give a helping hand. You could walk to the post office and know everyone by name. I think it is still there but just hard to find sometimes."
Patti Blahnick, owner of 2nd Ave consignment boutique in Tracy, believes small-town America still exists, but said “we are struggling to hang on to it.”
"I think someday it may be gone. Some people are afraid to support local, but when you do ... you get something special like us knowing you by name,” she said. “I'm going to hang onto this small-town feel as long as I can."
Tracy resident Karen Rickman said there “is something endearing about having a small-town feeling when raising a family."
"There are local traditions that get passed down through generations and unite a community together,” she said. “You always carry the values of a small town with you."
A writer might describe an image of a small town as kids at play, lemonade stands, puppies chasing balls, kites flying at the park and a local parade in the backdrop as kids show off their school spirit. Another image could be a row of homemade pies laid out on a checkered tablecloth with the sweet smell of iced tea in the air as a block party gathers together.
Yet I can honestly say that in a town like Tracy, these events still exist. No matter what you become in life and which path that leads down, your hometown will always stay with you.
- Anne Marie Fuller is a Tracy arts commissioner and the television host of “Helpful Hints with Anne Marie” on Channel 26 at 7 p.m. Fridays. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.