My Fascination with Small Towns

You might think that because I grew up in Los Angeles is the reason I'm fascinated by and set both of my series in small towns. And you might be right, at least partly.

When I was growing up in Los Angeles, though it was a big city even then, my neighborhood was like a small town in many ways. We knew all of our close neighbors. We felt safe to wander here and there--and the rule was only that we had to be back in time for supper--5 p.m. for me and my sister. There were no close grocery stores--Ralph's was the first and it was too far to walk and bring home groceries. We had no park, but behind our house up a flight of over 100 stairs was a wilderness of sorts. No houses, lots of wild growth, a wooden and cement structure that was a reservoir. Now all that is gone, taken over by the Glendale Freeway. We could go anywhere we wanted on public transportation--downtown to all the big stores, the public library, and all the way to the beach.

My first experience with a small town was in 1951 when I traveled to Cambridge MD to be married. Besides being on the East Coast with much different weather, flora and fauna, houses and buildings, no public transportation--believe me I experience culture shock too. I definitely knew I was living somewhere different.

Not too many years later, hubby and I and our two kids (at the time) settled in Oxnard, CA. And though it's now a booming city, it was a small town back then. With three nearby military bases (Port Hueneme, Oxnard Air Force Base, and Pt. Mugu) many of the inhabitants were in the service or worked on the military basis in a civilian capacity. We bought a home near the Port Hueneme Seabee base (hubby was a Seabee)  and we were about a mile from both Hueneme and Oxnard beaches and it wasn't long before we had 5 kids.

Oxnard grew and grew, hubby retired from the Navy, worked for Sears and retired from there and he wanted to move to someplace smaller. We decided on Springville CA, a small town in the foothills of the Southern Sierra where I had some ancestral roots. Another bit of cultural shock. To shop for food or clothes, seek medical aid, it was necessary to drive 17 miles down the hill to the larger town of Porterville.

We've now been here since 1981, retired from yet another job, that of being the owners and operators of a licensee care home for developmentally disabled women, and have become grandparents to 18, great grandparents to 13 with 2 more on the way.

Springville has made some changes, not all for the good, and it is still a small town.

I've had a great time incorporating what makes a small town unique into both of my series.


Driving toward Springville.

Jackass Mail Run in Springville

Snailhead, behind our house.


Marilyn, I used to really dislike living in a small town because where I live, it's an half-hour to one-hour drive to anywhere. We do have a grocery store and a post office! Now, I am more appreciative of the little town where we live. Sometimes it's nice for a place to be quiet. However, I do wish we had more restaurants which would be lovely on the waterfront!
I love living in Springville though I do miss the weather at the beach. We don't even like driving in So. Cal anymore--so probably a good thing we moved!
Patricia Gligor said…
I'm a small town girl at heart. Although I live in Cincinnati, a fairly large city, I enjoy the neighborhood, small town feel of the west side of the city, the setting for my first three books.
Alhambra, California also felt like a small town where everyone knew everyone else when we grew up there. Dana Point, where we now live, was a quiet little beach town 27 years ago when we moved here. Like most of Southern California, Dana Point has grown, but we adore our neighbors and wouldn't think of living anywhere else.

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