Dayton is the typical small farm town: the service station also sells fish bait. The corner grocery shop always has hot coffee available for ten cents (if you have it). The feed mill has everything you may need from grain for your horses to seed for your birds. And of course you never know if the old woman on the porch is silently judging you or actually happy to see you drive past.
Just outside of town is a fairly large Amish community, so we get a lot of horse and buggies coming through town. There's a love-hate relationship between the Amish and the citizens of Dayton. An Amish will work for cheaper so on one side you may get the addition put on your house for less than you expected, but Amish also take jobs away from other folks because non-Amish can't afford to survive on so low a wage.
I went and talked with friends of my cousin who were changing the oil in a tractor and pouring the sludgy dirty oil that was draining out of the rig onto a bonfire. The flames would shoot up and get hotter and brighter as they gave us the latest gossip about a few of the notorious people in town. They had plenty of almost cold canned beer to share, no questions asked.
The up-side to everyone knowing everyone in a small town like this is that just about anyone and everyone is willing to help you out if you need help. I have a hard enough time letting the car behind me let me parallel park in front of him on Elmwood Ave, let alone give me a ride to get groceries.
Is life better not knowing our neighbors? Is it better that we don't wave to each other as we pass by? Are we happier being so disconnected from everyone?
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