The town where I grew up was small and in 1938 when I was born there were only somewhere around 800 people in the entire town – – and there was a sign at the edge of town – – at the “Corporation Line” that attested to the fact, “Population 800.”
Few people ever locked their doors in our town because everyone knew everyone else and everyone trusted everyone else. There was only one policeman in the entire village because the only real crimes that ever seemed to occur were occasional drunks raising a little hell downtown at a bar or somewhere. You might hear the police siren on the single cruiser go off because of a domestic quarrel but it was rare.
The telephone system was a “Party Line” with maybe a dozen telephones attached to a single line and when someone called someone else all the phones on the party line would ring at the same time but people were courteous enough to let the two people doing the talking go about their conversations . . . most of the time that is. It was entirely possible to “Listen In” to party line conversations and I guess some of the town gossips did a lot of it because news traveled fast in Mason.
Our town had three grocery stores all owned by individual proprietors and in most of them you could “Run a bill” and this meant that you could “Charge” things on credit and then pay the bill off at the end of every month or every week or whatever you had worked out with the store owner. It was very convenient for customers but I am wondering if it was at all always convenient for the store owners. But it was the accepted practice in our town and everyone adhered to the same routine more or less except for the one merchant who insisted on cash and who went out of business because people stopped trading there.
There was a “Volunteer” fire department which meant that the members of the Fire Department were “On Call” in case of a fire or other emergency. Whenever the fire siren would go off all the “Volunteers” would drop whatever they were doing and rush to the fire house and get the old fire engine out and up and running and rush off to the fire to try to douse it. The “Volunteers” were very quick and usually saved most of the structures they were called to protect. Their other job seemed to be to put out the many grass fires in local farmers’ fields and once in a while the town dump would ignite from spontaneous combustion and the fire department would have to go pour water on it also. When the dump was on fire the entire town was covered with this awful-smelling pall for days on end – – until a rain would come and deal with it.
Every street in the downtown area was lined with stately old maple trees and walking down main street was very shady and cool and nice – – and trees do give off a pleasant scent.
Oh there is so much more to tell and I hope to be able to tell a lot of it as time goes on because it was kind of nice to live in that small town where the living was laid back but often hard. There were many memories . . . some great and some not so great and I do hope to share as many as I can right here for whoever might be interested in nostalgic old stuff.
What am I talking about? I am old myself, for crying out loud.