This I Believe

Jim - Hartington, Nebraska
Entered on November 10, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: community

I Believe in H Town

I didn’t grow up in Hartington, Nebraska, population 1,640ish—where I live now. In fact, I just got a bill in the mail a month ago that read, and I’m not joking, “New Guy in Town” Lemon Ave.

I grew up in our state’s biggest city. After high school, I attended college upstate—upstate Nebraska, that is. In a little town called Wayne, America, population 10,000, on a good day. After a few weeks of college, I returned home, to do laundry. When I went to pay for my five dollars in gas at my neighborhood convenience store, I greeted someone on the way in to pay.

“How’s it going?” I asked, holding the door open for this particular person. “What the hell is your problem,” the person replied.

Welcome home, I thought.

Since that day, my philosophy on location has changed. More or bigger is not necessarily better. The big O doesn’t hold the character this small town does. Here in H Town we might only have five eating establishments (two of which are bars and two franchise chains), but we have authentic fish frys. A local guy by the name of Kipper catches them from the Missouri River and brings them back to town in his pickup.

We might not have a Starbucks, but you can get a cup of coffee at Stop and Go for $.25. You just leave your quarter in the blue bowl next to the coffee maker.

We might not have a Gap or Abercrombie and Fitch, but I can guarantee you my daughter will grow up in a town where she is judged by her character and not the type of jeans she buys.

The grocery store here in Hartington has six aisles. The bowling alley has eight lanes, where the ball still, physically, rolls back to you. And although the concept is still a little unusual for me, I do leave my keys in the car when I do my business around town—and I don’t always lock my front door at night.

We try to make it to church here in H Town every Sunday, and we believe in a lot of things; God being one of them.

My friends from the city are genuinely taken aback to hear that I like living in what they call, a “Podunk” town.

There’s not a single philosophy that defines us here. Common sense values such as physical labor, honesty in human relations, emphasis on the primacy of family and community, and intimate physical, emotional, and spiritual connections to the land are very important to us.

I believe, rural aesthetics are different from urban in some respects, but I also believe we all share a special connection with the land and are concerned with preserving and sustaining our natural resources which serve as the wellspring of our most basic value systems—no matter where we hang our hats.

This, I believe.