I have been wanting to write this for awhile, but it never felt like the right time. Now that I’m leaving for Tennessee in only a few weeks, I’ve decided that now is a better time to share than ever.
It’s time to set things straight. Today I’m going to share with you which stereotypes are right, which ones are wrong, and what it was like growing up in a small town.
I haven’t lived in Wytheville, VA my whole life, we moved here from the city of Chesapeake, VA when I was 7. I’m glad we did, because if not, I would be completely different from the person I am today.
Everyone knows eachother. TRUE (mostly)
My town is definitely bigger than most “small towns”, but this still is a halfway accurate statement. For example, if your dad is the high school football coach and he’s caught with marijuana, EVERYONE will know within 2 days.
Sometimes I play a game when I am at a stoplight where I try to see if I know the people in the car beside me. Usually I don’t, and it them becomes an awkward stare off between me and a stranger. Sometimes it’s someone I went to high school with, or some person from church I don’t speak too; I then proceed look away quickly and die a little inside.
Whenever I mention a friend or a boy I’m interested in, my grandpa starts by asking “now what’s their last name?” I sigh and tell him, and sometimes, he knows exactly who their family is. Pastors are extremely connected in small towns.
This is Virginia Heights, it’s an adorable country restaurant and yes, it is ALWAYS this busy on Sunday’s after church. It is the place to be if you’re 50+, and each time I go there with my grandparents, my grandpa talks to literally almost everyone in there.
If you aren’t in the mood to see people you know in my town, you avoid Walmart at all cost. Walmart is the wall street of Wytheville, and if you go there after 5 you are guaranteed to see:
–People you went to high school with (which in my case, I either run or do a brief wave and then run)
– All your old teachers (in fact, Walmart was the place that helped me realize in middle school that my teachers had a life outside of being teachers)
–For many, their relatives. (Yes, Great Aunt Sue, I’m still single. No, please do not set me up with your friend’s grandson.)
–And if you’re lucky enough to go later than 10pm, you will encounter at least 3 creepy men in their 60s, and you will be paranoid as you walk back to your car with pepper spray in hand.
We drink a lot of sweet tea.
Sweet tea is one of the best things about living in the South. People drink it about as much as they drink water. And also, it gives you a great caffeine buzz that can help prevent a 4 hour nap after church. (The last sentence may be from personal experience.)
Everyone goes to church. MOSTLY TRUE
Out of my towns population, I would say about 65% of people go to church on Sundays and that increases to 85% on holidays such as Easter or Christmas Eve.
After all, we are in the Bible belt.
I go to one of the biggest churches in town, and I’m pretty sure I see atleast 15% of Wytheville’s population at service, which has it’s pros and cons.
Pros: I get to see people that I don’t get time to see on weekdays. And I get to spy on people.
Cons: I get distracted during communion because I’m spying on people.
We are as cute as the small towns in Hallmark Christmas movies.
I may just be biased, but I truly think Wytheville is adorable, particularly our downtown. We got a grant and in the past year or so, and I have seen the downtown area completely transform. One of my favorite things to do is just walking around on Main Street.
They turned all the sidewalks into brick and added flowers all over Main Street. They also play music through speakers– good music, 70s style.
There’s a mural in an alleyway now and it’s the best picture spot in town. My friends and I have spent a lot of time taking “cute” pictures there. To take the photos, I always place my phone on a timer and put it in a plant that is across from the wall.
Fun fact: One time I got all the way to my house before I realized I left my phone in a plant downtown.
Wytheville may be at it’s best now, but it was still great during my childhood, concrete sidewalks and all.
When I was in 5th grade, me and my best friend at the time spent the entire summer together. Which was great, because she lived in the middle of the downtown area.
I went home with her almost every day after school, and we had an unhealthy (but fun) routine. Her mom would take us to King’s Produce, there we would get a large Crazy Vanilla ice cream and a Mountain Dew. (The funny part is that I hated Mountain Dew, but I thought my friend was cool, so I got it because she did. I was quite the little conformist). We would then either go to her house and watch TV, break into the playground at the elementary school (where I would swing for like 2 minutes and then get off and almost throw up), and go downtown.
Our downtown adventures after school consisted mainly of us going to Skeeters. I’d get a barbecue sandwich (despite the fact that the place is famous for it’s hotdogs), and she’d get a hotdog. We both got Cokes in glass bottles, and we felt like adults as we swung our legs back and forth in the swivel seats by the table.
We’d then sometimes go into random shops downtown. By now, we had about $5, so we “window shopped” and I am pretty sure we annoyed every single store owner within our proximity (sorry guys).
I remember one time we went into this bridal/dress shop, my friend looked older so we pretended that she needed a dress for prom. She tried on like 10, and then we left claiming that we were going to get money and come back-we never came back.
We also loved going in The Office Supply, which is actually one of Wytheville’s tourist attractions because of the giant pencil that hangs out front. (I still am not sure that one day it will not fall and kill us all). We tried out literally every pen and sat in the office chairs, eventually we bought like an eraser. Sorry Office Supply, but you did help fuel my childhood.
Summer was about the same as the above described, with two additions. As I said before, we spent the whole summer together, and of course we got bored of hanging at her house. So, when this happened, we would steal from her mom’s change jar (sorry) and get out the $2 (or so) that we both needed for the public pool.
The McWayne pool was the place to be (well at least for us kiddos who couldn’t afford the country club across town). We would throw our change from the baggie we carried it in pay for admission, and then go in the disgusting changing room, emerging in brightly colored tankinis. This was the life.
We then laid around much too long, and eventually got in the pool. My friend was a better swimmer, and we’d sometimes find other friends at the pool, we then would race, and I’d almost die. Then we’d scrounge up more change and ask the cute lifeguard (well, sometimes) for one of those plastic long popsicle things. If we had more to splurge, we would use the crosswalk, and brave the journey to King’s Produce. I always walked in there in my bathing suit (even though it was “against the rules”). We’d get our ice cream and head back to the pool, relishing the looks of all the jealous kids whose parents wouldn’t take them there.
I could go on and on about my memories of Wytheville, but let’s be honest, if this blog post gets any longer, NO ONE will read it. (I wouldn’t)\
So in summary, being raised in a small town as a kid is the best. It’s much safer, and I believe it is simpler since we have to be creative on what to do. It does have it’s cons, but maybe I will one day write a different post about those haha!
I hope you have enjoyed getting a glimpse into my cute little hometown!