So, what is a small town anyway?

To the editor:

Wanted:  a house to live in in a small town.

It would seem this would be a relatively easy task with so many listings on the market. What is your problem? Well  a  lot of people gathered last night at the forum  presented  by the Ledger-Transcript and supported by the Monadnock Center for Culture on this very subject.

It didn’t take long in the conversation before many  started to question —What is a small town or a town that  looks like a small town, with telltale signs of small-town features? The idea that you can just go out  on the street in any town and know you are  in a small town  becomes crystal clear that it isn’t as simple as it  looks.

First I  need a definition — what is a small  town? Try these indicators and see if they might fit your needs: The  population is 1,000 residents or less, no street lights, no red  lights, no water and sewer lines, no  curbs, some dirt roads, no shopping center, no  parking lots, no  traffic, a small library, few births, no hospital, no theater, few apartments, no voting machines, a volunteer fire department, no manufacturing plants, and it’s quiet.

Everybody  knows everybody and everyone  goes to town  meeting.

Recognize  any place you know in New Hampshire? I think there might be  a 100 or more  towns that  would fit your description. Your job is going to be easy.   

Some  people might say this is “deadsville” — no growth, no industry, but others might love the peace and quiet.

Now that you have  picked your  dream town — you fear it might change after you buy your  house. So you pick up a Ledger-Transcript and get serious about your search.  First thing you  look at is the police log. If you end up laughing, that’s a good sign. But next thing you  look for is  the obituary column.

But there is  nothing to upset me, so we  move to the sports section. Boy  they  have a  lot of kids - that’s a good sign.

Finally  we look at the  real estate   page — your town doesn’t seem to be in a  sell out and  no outlandish giveaways.

Oh I forgot  schools. Do the people support the budget? Is there a regional school where so much of the cost is carried by the other towns with all the plants and  shopping centers?  Your town  only pays 10 percent of the school  budget. Enough soul  searching. It’s time to look at some houses. 

But wait a  minute, is there enough  business activity in the area to keep my town taxes low? Great, where do I sign? Wait a  minute, I’m a Lion, is there a Lion Club  in town? Good.

Fran Chapman


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