Tag Archives: small towns

As One Door Closes – - –

Jack’s weekly (kind of) guest post -

I have to admit that the sudden closure of the iconic ‘Mutual Pharmacy and Diner’ which features in The Little Bookstore, and in Adriana Trigiana’s Big Stone Gap series of novels, was a severe shock to everyone in our community. Wendy and I believe in places like that and so it hit us particularly hard. The fact that it was bought out by a well known national pharmacy chain (which probably needs to remain nameless, but is the only one in BSG) only makes it more poignant. Of course we are glad that said chain is re-employing some of the staff, but there’s a suspicion that it was all about removing competition.

But nothing lasts for ever, and that brings me to another point. Small towns have a USP (OK – I have an MBA so I’m allowed to mention a Unique Selling Point) and that is easily experienced, but very hard to define. It’s a mixture of architecture, culture, personality/character, position, dynamic and history (at least). Big Stone Gap has all of that in abundance, so I am optimistic about its future despite the closure of ‘The Mutual’.

Something else that the ‘Gap’ has is a growing number of people who realize that waiting for one of the existing established organizations to do ‘it’ for them is not necessarily a recipe for success. When Wendy and I travel around the country to other small towns we continually see that the thriving ones are that way because enough people just got together and did something. Sometimes that is centered on a business, but just as often it will be a farmers’ market, or a community yard sale.

Today I was doing my normal quick trawl through FaceBook and saw a post announcing that Bob’s Market and Family Drug was having a re-opening event. This is another long established local business. Bob has retired and everyone thought that was another one gone. But, no! New owners have taken over and are rarin’ to go – that’s great!

So, what’s the message?

All communities change and develop – sometimes much loved landmarks go; but sometimes enthusiasts like the new owners of Bob’s Market and Family Drug arrive on the scene. Their timing, in this case, was spot on! So to David Adkins, Kara Goins Adkins and Rick Mullins, I can only give the traditional Scottish well-wish: Lang may yir lum reek!


For more on the background to this post check out our friend Amy Clark’s op-ed piece in a recent edition of the NY Times – http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/03/opinion/appalachian-hope-and-heartbreak.html?


Filed under Big Stone Gap, Life reflections, small town USA, VA

Privacy? Oh, Puh-leez!

Because I am extremely busy this last week of Jack being gone (found a backhoe!) and because the Edward Snowden stuff has made everybody jumpy on the subject, I am re-running here a blog I did back before my book came out, on the expectation of privacy in small towns. At that time, people were concerned about Facebook, but it’s been updated to encompass the phone hacking concerns. Enjoy.

I don’t know why people are so het up about privacy issues concerning the government and our phone calls. First of all, the government has shown itself so thoroughly efficient in other matters, we should all be quaking in our boots that they’ve set up a phone monitoring plan? HA!

But honestly, living as Jack and I do in a town of five thousand, we know there is no such thing as privacy. Never has been, not for us rural dwellers, anyway.

In a small town, when you pass the grocery store (THE grocery store) you can tell by the license plates or car makes who is shopping there. Same with the liquor store. Or any other {ahem} establishment a body might frequent. Go to the doctor at 11 am, and by 5 pm someone from your church calls to find out what’s wrong with you.

That’s why pastors have parishoners buy their hard stuff. That’s why teachers drive to the state line to buy lingerie. That’s why Jack and I gave up on selling addiction recovery books in our shop.

In a small town, what your child did to get in trouble at school makes it home before s/he does. The poor kid gets it twice, because during lunch the school nurse, who happens to be your sister’s worst enemy, calls HER sister to gloat about whatever it was, and five minutes later her sister has told her friend who has told another friend who happens to be your pastor’s wife…..

The other day, I checked a book of folktales out of the library; it was titled “The Rat Catcher’s Daughter.” When our termite control man showed up to do his monthly routine a couple of days later, he said, “You know, we take care of rodents, too.”

“We don’t have a problem with them. Never seen one. Must be the staff cats,” my husband replied.

The man winked. “Sure, right, but if Wendy’s thinking she can catch them herself, it’s not much more money to have mice and rats in your contract, and they’re hard work. Don’t worry; we’ll be discreet.”

Jack gave him a blank look. Turns out our termite guy’s wife volunteers at the library, saw me check out the book with the misleading title, and noted it to her husband, knowing we were his customers. Jack showed Tom the folktale collection. They had a good laugh. All in a day’s small town living.

And y’all are worried about privacy loss due to our so-very-efficient government trying to glean info from phone calls? Puhleaze….


Filed under Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, small town USA, Uncategorized