Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Small-Town Life

 

Until we moved to our current home in 1996, my wife and I had always lived in cities or on military bases. Small town life was a revelation for us. We live in a rural area and I worked in a small-town high school for 16 years after leaving my corporate job. Going to town is always an experience, as everyplace we go is staffed by former students and their parents.

Waitresses know your name and usually have an idea what you will order. When we respond to medical or other calls for our fire department, we typically know the family, which is a big relief for people under stress. When I visit the schools in town (I’m on the school board), I see the children of my former students, and other former students work in the schools now.

I get why some kids feel stifled and want to move away, but many stay and others move back. There is a much stronger sense of community than I ever had in a suburb or some of the mid-size cities where we lived. I suspect that large cities naturally create that crazy left-wing politics. People are surrounded by others and yet live as if they are alone. When things like church parishes defined neighborhoods, people had that sense of community, but those days are mostly over.

Our veterinarian is a local boy and told me a story of how he once went to pick up the daughter of one of his teachers for a date. She said, “Brian, don’t do anything you don’t want me to know about because I will hear about it by 8 AM tomorrow.” He said “yes, ma’am” and behaved.

We live in Welfare, TX, and the schools are in nearby Comfort. Comfort schools have a total of just over 1,300 students K-12, living in an area of about 200 square miles.

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There are 34 comments.

  1. Randy Webster Member

    Tex929rr: “Brian, don’t do anything you don’t want me to know about because I will hear about it by 8 AM tomorrow”. He said “yes, ma’am” and behaved.

    If she didn’t know about it immediately, I wasn’t doing my job. I quail at the thought of the things I did as a young man.

    • #1
    • November 15, 2019, at 2:31 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  2. Bishop Wash Member

    Tex929rr: People are surrounded by others and yet live as if they are alone. When things like church parishes defined neighborhoods people had that sense of community, but those days are mostly over.

    I heard a guest a month or so ago, on one of the podcasts in the superfeed, connect this to zoning laws. He claimed that churches used to be built within neighborhoods and created a community. Now cities end up with Church Row usually located away from neighborhoods.

    • #2
    • November 15, 2019, at 2:40 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  3. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr Post author

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Tex929rr: “Brian, don’t do anything you don’t want me to know about because I will hear about it by 8 AM tomorrow”. He said “yes, ma’am” and behaved.

    If she didn’t know about it immediately, I wasn’t doing my job. I quail at the thought of the things I did as a young man.

    On, yeah, and the daughter is now an MD and has moved back to town, with kids in the school.

    • #3
    • November 15, 2019, at 2:54 PM PST
    • 1 like
  4. The Reticulator Member

    Hey, I’ve been to Welfare. It was on a ride from Fredericksburg to Boerne to check out some Michigan history. Next time through I’ll look for the old school and take a photo. I like to take photos of old schools and school memorials. It was my visits to some of the old country schools that have been preserved around Fredericksburg, which led me to the Country School Association, which in turn led to other things. I haven’t visited all of those country schools yet.

    Nice description of small town life. 

    • #4
    • November 15, 2019, at 3:09 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  5. The Reticulator Member

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    Tex929rr: People are surrounded by others and yet live as if they are alone. When things like church parishes defined neighborhoods people had that sense of community, but those days are mostly over.

    I heard a guest a month or so ago, on one of the podcasts in the superfeed, connect this to zoning laws. He claimed that churches used to be built within neighborhoods and created a community. Now cities end up with Church Row usually located away from neighborhoods.

    Something along those lines happens with small town schools. They used to be in town, where kids might go downtown at lunchtime or after school to get a bite to eat. Nowadays they are built on campuses outside of town, separate from the community, where they despoil the landscape and require motorized transportation for kids to get there and learn how their parents are destroying the environment.

    • #5
    • November 15, 2019, at 3:15 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  6. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr Post author

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Hey, I’ve been to Welfare. It was on a ride from Fredericksburg to Boerne to check out some Michigan history. Next time through I’ll look for the old school and take a photo. I like to take photos of old schools and school memorials. It was my visits to some of the old country schools that have been preserved around Fredericksburg, which led me to the Country School Association, which in turn led to other things. I haven’t visited all of those country schools yet.

    Nice description of small town life.

    The Welfare school is about 200 feet from the sign in the picture. The Waring school is one block off of the main road, and is definitely worth a stop. The old outhouses are still there. Until a few years ago the Welfare school was a polling place. Both schools have wood stoves and chalkboards still in place, and the Welfare school has students desks bolted to the floor. We took a picture last weekend at the Waring historical society meeting of 5 people that attended the one room schoolhouse.

    Oh, and on several on line forums people have been shocked that Welfare is actually a place. It sort of sounds like a joke to live in Welfare.

    • #6
    • November 15, 2019, at 4:19 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  7. Mark Camp Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Hey, I’ve been to Welfare. It was on a ride from Fredericksburg to Boerne to check out some Michigan history. Next time through I’ll look for the old school and take a photo. I like to take photos of old schools and school memorials. It was my visits to some of the old country schools that have been preserved around Fredericksburg, which led me to the Country School Association, which in turn led to other things. I haven’t visited all of those country schools yet.

    Nice description of small town life.

    If my CPA approves the purchase of a used Vespa (the old ticker’s not what it once was or I’d gladly pedal), would you take on another rider in your gang? All these trip reports are intriguing.

    • #7
    • November 15, 2019, at 4:35 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  8. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    Tex929rr: People are surrounded by others and yet live as if they are alone. When things like church parishes defined neighborhoods people had that sense of community, but those days are mostly over.

    I heard a guest a month or so ago, on one of the podcasts in the superfeed, connect this to zoning laws. He claimed that churches used to be built within neighborhoods and created a community. Now cities end up with Church Row usually located away from neighborhoods.

    Bars too. They also create community. 

    • #8
    • November 15, 2019, at 5:15 PM PST
    • 1 like
  9. Slow on the uptake Thatcher

    Driven through any number of times. Often wondered where the names of those towns came from. I could make up my own ideas, but hopefully those are wrong: What’s the real story?

    • #9
    • November 15, 2019, at 5:24 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  10. The Reticulator Member

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Hey, I’ve been to Welfare. It was on a ride from Fredericksburg to Boerne to check out some Michigan history. Next time through I’ll look for the old school and take a photo. I like to take photos of old schools and school memorials. It was my visits to some of the old country schools that have been preserved around Fredericksburg, which led me to the Country School Association, which in turn led to other things. I haven’t visited all of those country schools yet.

    Nice description of small town life.

    If my CPA approves the purchase of a used Vespa (the old ticker’s not what it once was or I’d gladly pedal), would you take on another rider in your gang? All these trip reports are intriguing.

    Sure. Or you might consider an e-bike if you’d like to pedal but get more power and speed per pedal stroke. I’m hoping I won’t need one of those for a while yet, but the day may come.

    Back when early models first came out, my wife suggested getting one so she could accompany me. But they were clunkier then, and I was against it, saying she’d run out of battery and then have a heavy clunker for one of us to pedal back. But now that they are a realistic option, she begged off, saying she’s afraid of falling and injuring the knee that just got replaced. But some hardc0re bicyclists I know on the internet have gotten them so they can handle longer commutes or the ravages of old age.

    • #10
    • November 15, 2019, at 5:27 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  11. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Slow on the uptake (View Comment):

    Driven through any number of times. Often wondered where the names of those towns came from. I could make up my own ideas, but hopefully those are wrong: What’s the real story?

    Welfare wasn’t a dirty word until the 20th century. 

    • #11
    • November 15, 2019, at 5:29 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  12. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr Post author

    Slow on the uptake (View Comment):

    Driven through any number of times. Often wondered where the names of those towns came from. I could make up my own ideas, but hopefully those are wrong: What’s the real story?

    “The settlement was originally named “Bon Ton” or “Boyton”. The establishment of the post office in 1880 changed the name to “Welfare”. Carl Philipp Beseler was the first postmaster.[6] The post office was discontinued in 1976. The name changed to the German word Wohlfarht, translated as “pleasant trip”, after Alma Wohlfarht, who with her husband Perry Laas, ran the store for 50 years.“

    From wiki. Lots of dispute on the Welfare name. Waring is named for a railroad man that founded the town. 

    • #12
    • November 15, 2019, at 5:50 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  13. Mark Camp Member

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    Slow on the uptake (View Comment):

    Driven through any number of times. Often wondered where the names of those towns came from. I could make up my own ideas, but hopefully those are wrong: What’s the real story?

    “The settlement was originally named “Bon Ton” or “Boyton”. The establishment of the post office in 1880 changed the name to “Welfare”. Carl Philipp Beseler was the first postmaster.[6] The post office was discontinued in 1976. The name changed to the German word Wohlfarht, translated as “pleasant trip”, after Alma Wohlfarht, who with her husband Perry Laas, ran the store for 50 years.“

    From wiki. Lots of dispute on the Welfare name. Waring is named for a railroad man that founded the town.

    Tex,

    Crazy, interesting placename history. Thx. Reminds me that Texas was a draw for German immigrants. But Bon Ton? [Fr.]Bon…[Eng.]Wel…[German]Wohl. Makes you wonder about the connections. Don’t know what Ton is in French, though.

    • #13
    • November 15, 2019, at 6:00 PM PST
    • 1 like
  14. The Reticulator Member

    Tex929rr (View Comment):
    We took a picture last weekend at the Waring historical society meeting of 5 people that attended the one room schoolhouse.

    So you’re a historical society person! That means you might know people who know where all the bodies are buried.

    The people at the library in Boerne have been quite helpful, but I still don’t know where Asahel Savery from Michigan is buried. He made quite an impression around here before he left for Texas. He got out of Texas during the Civil War, and then went back. The folks at the library in Boerne helped determine that it was he who married (if I remember correctly) the stepmother of Clinton and Jeff Smith, the two boys who were captured by Comanche Indians and lived with them a number of years. No, that’s not quite right. He was too old for that. I think his daughter was their stepmother. Yes. I have handy a photo of a historical marker that says Henry Smith, the father of the two boys, later married Harriet E. Savory Nicholson.

    But I have no idea where he was buried. I’m not sure if I know where Harriet was buried, either, for that matter. 

    • #14
    • November 15, 2019, at 6:25 PM PST
    • 1 like
  15. The Reticulator Member

    Tex929rr (View Comment):
    The Welfare school is about 200 feet from the sign in the picture.

    On StreetView it likes like there is a gate across the entrance. Do you know if that just means I can walk in as long as I close it behind me? Or do I need to get someone to let me in?

    • #15
    • November 15, 2019, at 9:41 PM PST
    • 1 like
  16. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr Post author

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):
    The Welfare school is about 200 feet from the sign in the picture.

    On StreetView it likes like there is a gate across the entrance. Do you know if that just means I can walk in as long as I close it behind me? Or do I need to get someone to let me in?

    It will be locked but contact me and I can get you in.

    • #16
    • November 15, 2019, at 10:12 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  17. Stad Thatcher

    I love living in a small town. I moved from Raleigh, NC to Aiken, SC in 1988, and haven’t looked back. I still have friends in Raleigh, and drive up to visit from time to time. I always come home knowing I made the right decision.

    And of course, by “I” I mean “We”.

    • #17
    • November 16, 2019, at 6:30 AM PST
    • 1 like
  18. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Stopped in Welfare a couple of times to go to Po Po’s Restaurant on the old U.S. 87 (not sure what the Farm Road number is now), and had to attend a basketball tournament in Comfort last Christmas-New Year’s week. That’s when I learned about the back road with the I-10 overpass to link the high school and the junior high complexes.

    Further out here in West Texas, the oil boom has disrupted the small town feeling, because there are so many new and transitory people working the jobs, and the stores and restaurants also have had to bring in, and in some cases build apartments, for people to work those stores, because there aren’t enough local workers to meet the needs, even at $14-$17 an hour starting wages.

    A few places that are either family-run or have long-time employees still provide the feeling you know the people you’re dealing with, but if you go into, say, the local McDonald’s, you might as well be going into one 500 miles away from home for the lack of familiar faces you’ll see behind the counter.

    • #18
    • November 16, 2019, at 6:52 PM PST
    • Like
  19. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr Post author

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    Stopped in Welfare a couple of times to go to Po Po’s Restaurant on the old U.S. 87 (not sure what the Farm Road number is now), and had to attend a basketball tournament in Comfort last Christmas-New Year’s week. That’s when I learned about the back road with the I-10 overpass to link the high school and the junior high complexes.

    Further out here in West Texas, the oil boom has disrupted the small town feeling, because there are so many new and transitory people working the jobs, and the stores and restaurants also have had to bring in, and in some cases build apartments, for people to work those stores, because there aren’t enough local workers to meet the needs, even at $14-$17 an hour starting wages.

    A few places that are either family-run or have long-time employees still provide the feeling you know the people you’re dealing with, but if you go into, say, the local McDonald’s, you might as well be going into one 500 miles away from home for the lack of familiar faces you’ll see behind the counter.

    The son of the previous PoPo owners was in one of my classes as was the granddaughter of the owner before that. All those businesses up on the interstate at I-10 and US 87 are relatively recent construction. The road where PoPo is located is FM 289 – FM is “Farm to Market”. The Welfare school is about 2 miles away on Waring-Welfare RD. There are places where you can see the vestigial remains of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass railroad. On the back road to Fredericksburg are the remains of a railroad tunnel that is now a huge bat roost in the summer.

    All these little unincorporated towns used to have dairies, churches, general stores, etc but better roads and cars sort of hollowed them out. One of the people that attended the Welfare school told us about how he and his brother would ride to the school on horseback. Pretty much no one makes a living from agriculture any more. Ranches are old family ranches that hang on by hunting leases or hobby ranches for wealthy city residents.

    • #19
    • November 17, 2019, at 3:30 AM PST
    • 1 like
  20. Instugator Thatcher

    Looks like you have plenty of Welfare and it is no small Comfort.

    • #20
    • November 17, 2019, at 4:04 AM PST
    • 1 like
  21. The Reticulator Member

    Tex929rr (View Comment):
    One of the people that attended the Welfare school told us about how he and his brother would ride to the school on horseback.

    The school in North Dakota that my brother and I attended for a few months (before we moved to Nebraska in fall 1956) had a stable where students could keep their horses. I only remember it being used for that purpose one time. This reminds me that I want to see if anybody has a photo of that school, preferably including that stable. I have photos of all the other schools I attended, but not that one. 

    • #21
    • November 17, 2019, at 6:23 AM PST
    • Like
  22. Randy Weivoda Moderator

    Stad (View Comment):

    I love living in a small town. I moved from Raleigh, NC to Aiken, SC in 1988, and haven’t looked back. I still have friends in Raleigh, and drive up to visit from time to time. I always come home knowing I made the right decision.

    And of course, by “I” I mean “We”.

    I looked up the size of Aiken and it’s population is about 30,000. That seems like the sweet spot to me, big enough to have most everything you need without the hassles that come with a big city. I think of that as a small city, though, not a small town. I think of a small town as being fewer than 2,000 people.

    • #22
    • November 17, 2019, at 8:40 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  23. Full Size Tabby Member

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    Slow on the uptake (View Comment):

    Driven through any number of times. Often wondered where the names of those towns came from. I could make up my own ideas, but hopefully those are wrong: What’s the real story?

    “The settlement was originally named “Bon Ton” or “Boyton”. The establishment of the post office in 1880 changed the name to “Welfare”. Carl Philipp Beseler was the first postmaster.[6] The post office was discontinued in 1976. The name changed to the German word Wohlfarht, translated as “pleasant trip”, after Alma Wohlfarht, who with her husband Perry Laas, ran the store for 50 years.“

    From wiki. Lots of dispute on the Welfare name. Waring is named for a railroad man that founded the town.

    I understand that the U.S. Post Office required name changes to a number of towns in Texas. Previously there might have been more than one town of a particular name in Texas, but in different counties. Apparently the Texas state (or republic) system could handle that by identifying the town with its county, the U.S. Post Office was less understanding.

    • #23
    • November 17, 2019, at 2:09 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  24. Full Size Tabby Member

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    I love living in a small town. I moved from Raleigh, NC to Aiken, SC in 1988, and haven’t looked back. I still have friends in Raleigh, and drive up to visit from time to time. I always come home knowing I made the right decision.

    And of course, by “I” I mean “We”.

    I looked up the size of Aiken and it’s population is about 30,000. That seems like the sweet spot to me, big enough to have most everything you need without the hassles that come with a big city. I think of that as a small city, though, not a small town. I think of a small town as being fewer than 2,000 people.

    When we chose a town for retirement living, we also thought about 30,000 population was a good size – big enough to have all the retail and other services that we use on a regular basis, but small enough not to have too many big city problems, especially traffic. Our biggest regular traffic jam seems to be at noon on Sunday as everyone’s moving along Main Street to get from church to lunch (either at someone’s house or at one of the limited number of restaurants that are open on Sunday).

    • #24
    • November 17, 2019, at 2:17 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  25. Full Size Tabby Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    Tex929rr: People are surrounded by others and yet live as if they are alone. When things like church parishes defined neighborhoods people had that sense of community, but those days are mostly over.

    I heard a guest a month or so ago, on one of the podcasts in the superfeed, connect this to zoning laws. He claimed that churches used to be built within neighborhoods and created a community. Now cities end up with Church Row usually located away from neighborhoods.

    Something along those lines happens with small town schools. They used to be in town, where kids might go downtown at lunchtime or after school to get a bite to eat. Nowadays they are built on campuses outside of town, separate from the community, where they despoil the landscape and require motorized transportation for kids to get there and learn how their parents are destroying the environment.

    Well, there’s also consumer decisions.

    We (the public) have said we prefer the larger selection of an H-E-B or a Walmart or a Target or a Home Depot rather than the more limited selection of a corner market or a small hardware store. We want the low prices that H-E-B and Walmart and Target and Home Depot can provide. Just this morning at church I was talking with a person who had bought a plant at H-E-B for $21, and then decided she wanted another, but found that the local store charged $40 for the same type of plant, and said they couldn’t even get a wholesale price as low as H-E-B’s retail price.

    We want a church large enough to have full scale programs for our each of our children at different ages, or professional quality music, or plenty of parking, or other features that no longer fit in a church with a pastor and maybe a part-time administrator occupying a 3,000 square foot church building on 1/2 acre lot on a corner in a residential area.

    We want a school that has large science laboratories and dedicated computer rooms and a theater for plays and musical performances and a spacious cafeteria and a variety of athletic fields, all of which do not fit on a couple of acres in the middle of town.

    So, all these things end up on the outskirts of town, and exist separate from the residential neighborhoods. 

    • #25
    • November 17, 2019, at 2:36 PM PST
    • 1 like
  26. Randy Webster Member

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):
    I heard a guest a month or so ago, on one of the podcasts in the superfeed, connect this to zoning laws. He claimed that churches used to be built within neighborhoods and created a community. Now cities end up with Church Row usually located away from neighborhoods.

    When I took Property 40 years ago, churches were one of the highest uses land could be put to, and couldn’t be zoned out of any areas. The law may have change since then.

    • #26
    • November 17, 2019, at 2:43 PM PST
    • 1 like
  27. Instugator Thatcher

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):
    That seems like the sweet spot to me, big enough to have most everything you need without the hassles that come with a big city.

    As long as I have internet and Amazon, I am willing to explore just how small my town could be.

    • #27
    • November 17, 2019, at 4:18 PM PST
    • 1 like
  28. The Reticulator Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    Tex929rr: People are surrounded by others and yet live as if they are alone. When things like church parishes defined neighborhoods people had that sense of community, but those days are mostly over.

    I heard a guest a month or so ago, on one of the podcasts in the superfeed, connect this to zoning laws. He claimed that churches used to be built within neighborhoods and created a community. Now cities end up with Church Row usually located away from neighborhoods.

    Something along those lines happens with small town schools. They used to be in town, where kids might go downtown at lunchtime or after school to get a bite to eat. Nowadays they are built on campuses outside of town, separate from the community, where they despoil the landscape and require motorized transportation for kids to get there and learn how their parents are destroying the environment.

    Well, there’s also consumer decisions.

    We (the public) have said we prefer the larger selection of an H-E-B or a Walmart or a Target or a Home Depot rather than the more limited selection of a corner market or a small hardware store. We want the low prices that H-E-B and Walmart and Target and Home Depot can provide. Just this morning at church I was talking with a person who had bought a plant at H-E-B for $21, and then decided she wanted another, but found that the local store charged $40 for the same type of plant, and said they couldn’t even get a wholesale price as low as H-E-B’s retail price.

    We want a church large enough to have full scale programs for our each of our children at different ages, or professional quality music, or plenty of parking, or other features that no longer fit in a church with a pastor and maybe a part-time administrator occupying a 3,000 square foot church building on 1/2 acre lot on a corner in a residential area.

    We want a school that has large science laboratories and dedicated computer rooms and a theater for plays and musical performances and a spacious cafeteria and a variety of athletic fields, all of which do not fit on a couple of acres in the middle of town.

    So, all these things end up on the outskirts of town, and exist separate from the residential neighborhoods.

    It’s definitely something we do to ourselves.

    • #28
    • November 17, 2019, at 4:25 PM PST
    • 1 like
  29. Slow on the uptake Thatcher

    Instugator (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):
    That seems like the sweet spot to me, big enough to have most everything you need without the hassles that come with a big city.

    As long as I have internet and Amazon, I am willing to explore just how small my town could be.

    Started bringing internet to my county just this year.

    • #29
    • November 17, 2019, at 4:32 PM PST
    • Like
  30. Full Size Tabby Member

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):
    I heard a guest a month or so ago, on one of the podcasts in the superfeed, connect this to zoning laws. He claimed that churches used to be built within neighborhoods and created a community. Now cities end up with Church Row usually located away from neighborhoods.

    When I took Property 40 years ago, churches were one of the highest uses land could be put to, and couldn’t be zoned out of any areas. The law may have change since then.

    Towns sometimes are not thrilled about some locations churches want, since churches generate neither property nor sales tax revenue. 

    Funny anecdote about churches and zoning. The southern California town in which my father lived was a designed-from-scratch “master planned” town. Initial layout was done in the mid-1960’s. That initial master plan put land for churches (3 – 4 acres each) scattered around the town at the edges of various residential neighborhoods. But the plan was made with the expectation that the churches would be short-term, and by the end of the 20th century all those church plots would be turned into local retail (the layout was being done at the peak of the “God is Dead” fad of the 1960’s, so the expectation was that by the end of the 2oth century no one would be attending church any more). As the town was actually built through the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, churches wanted larger plots of land, so they bought land originally intended for office buildings. And by the time the town realized that churches were not going to die off, the concept of neighborhood retail had fallen off too. So the 3 – 4 acre plots were desired neither by churches nor by retail establishments (the plots were too small for use by either). As many of those plots remained vacant 40 years after being laid out, they were rezoned for houses. 

    • #30
    • November 17, 2019, at 4:50 PM PST
    • 4 likes