We wandered around my little town during our few days off. We met up with a local friend at the pharmacy down-town and my college friend was delighted that she could still get a cuppa joe for only five cents. We sat outside and drank cheap coffee and locals passed us, many with a smile and a wave. A few even stopped to chat.
Beaming, my college friend pronounced my little town to be, "the perfect Norman Rockwell town!" She wanted to hang pictures on her dorm room walls to remind her that such places actually existed in real life.
Now, this incident happened 14 years ago and a lot has changed. The pharmacy with the five cent coffee is long gone. It's been replaced by an organic cafe. Cute and quaint, but not cheap. Other local businesses have changed hands or moved on and the "square" looks quite different than it did then.
But the sad part isn't this list of changes. No, the sad part is the "rise in crime." Now everyone is having this issue everywhere, but here are our highlights (all within the past five years ):
- In a development just across the field from where I lived in high school, a young man shot a cop who was trying to arrest him for a minor driving violation (obviously there was far more to the story uncovered later).
- Not two months later, in the development that my boyfriend in high school lived, our little town made NATIONAL news thanks to a "good Christian" 18-year-old boy who shot his 14-year-old girlfriend's parents and "kidnapped" her. The couple ran across state lines and finally got caught in Indiana. This was the same weekend that my brother got married, and the month after my in-laws moved to our town, looking for a nice quiet little place near their grandchildren. This same boy and some of his friends (one of which apparently lives around the corner from me) video-recorded themselves on "night raids" where they would enter homes with weapons while inhabitants were sleeping.
- Last summer, there were a series of break-ins in the area, and the police were asking everyone to alert them if they planned to be out of town overnight.
- Within the past year, our local school district has been in the news for both racial violence in the parking lot AND for the band director(s) having affair(s) with students.
- TODAY... as I was typing this, there was a "hostage situation" in a bank just a few blocks from my house. Thankfully, it turned out to be just a "suspicious package" from the sound of things, but the entire "downtown" area was shut down for a couple hours by the bomb squad.
My memory is a tad fuzzy on the details of all of these things (so if I got some wrong, I'm sorry); frankly I try to forget them, but I highly doubt that you'll find these things in a Rockwell painting. Sigh...