It doesn’t take much to be considered big news in Small Town America. A house being built, new bleachers at the football field or a sidewalk that has been replaced with fresh concrete can top the list, and often do. Growing up in White City puts you on the side of being pro-active because for many years, if you didn’t have what you needed from the grocery store before 6pm, you just did without. If your car needed gas, you had to get it before the gas station closed, or wait until the morning when it opened. No, we didn’t roll the streets up at dark, unless it was dark at 6 o’clock.
But times do change and before you know it, the modern world creeps into these small, sleepy towns. I can remember the excitement when the Central National Bank expanded to include a drive-up window. I know, the hustle and bustle of the downtown area of White City can be daunting, but the convenience of the drive -up was welcomed. A few years later, the bank added an ATM machine in the lobby to make convenience more convenient but you had to get out of your car to use it. I don’t think the community could have handled the excitement of the drive-up ATM.
Our newspaper, The Prairie Post (of The White City Register), used to print the actual paper the old-fashioned way. Big machines with lots of moving parts and loud noises with presses that weren’t good for anything but printing the good and bad news of the week, and they worked hard to put out the Thursday paper. Real ink and no spell-check made for a wonderful paper that when you read it on Thursday, most of the news had already circulated around town. But it is great to read the paper and see your name in it on occasion. With computers finally making it into what is now the Prairie Post, the paper became a more streamlined operation. Still once a week, but now it’s only the quiet sound the keyboard makes as the news is entered in. And the phone ringing of course as news is breaking.
When the gas station updated their pumps to take your credit card day or night, I went up the very first day (after 6pm) just to try it out. Now that’s pretty convenient. But I think most of the locals still like to go in during business hours to hear the latest news and have a cup of coffee. After all, the paper won’t be out for a few more days. Most of the White City community works out-of-town and as you would expect, we have seen the ATM and pay-at-the-pump before, but when it changes the landscape of White City, it’s like we’re seeing it for the first time.
Change is good and there isn’t anything wrong with a little convenience. But I still find myself in a small state of panic as my internal clock strikes 5:45 pm. Milk, bread, gas and cash? Check.