I live a few miles outside a very small village (and, yes, it’s a village not a town or city). It’s not one of those quaint little places with street after street of “darling” shops and upscale eateries. It’s a rural, getting-by-by-the-seat-of-our-pants village. But my village does have some odd, somewhat endearing things about it. Take, for example, the village police department…
My village police department moved into the funeral home a few years ago. Let me clarify. The funeral home is no longer a funeral home. It’s not that you can say goodbye to Uncle Joe and file a missing bike report in the same room. Although I’m a little surprised it didn’t turn out that way, space being at a premium uptown.
The funeral home moved out and the police moved in. But some things about the police department moved (all the way from kind of kitty-corner across the 4 corners) with it. You see, the village doesn’t have a large police force. So, if you have to report a crime after 6 p.m. you drive to the
funeral home police department and go to the back of the building. There’s a phone on the wall. Just pick it up and the operator will send our police force (Ed) to meet you in the parking lot. An out of state friend didn’t believe me about the phone but I showed her by showing her.
We have a café called The Feed Bag.
I laughed out loud when I saw a Yelp review talking about the “cute glasses” the café uses. They’re mason jars. And the café doesn’t use them to be cute. They use them because locals wouldn’t necessarily recognize water glasses without the screw top thingy.
The Feed Bag is in what some city folks try to call our “strip mall.” It’s actually part of the old granary at the railroad tracks. Not that the granary isn’t still there. It just doesn’t need all those office spaces. Now in those spaces we have the café, a tattoo parlor (because the old ladies need people to gossip about and tattoos are great fodder!), and several other businesses. After all there’s room for a total of six! I’d list them but they change fairly frequently. And the “mall” is, naturally, named after the school sports team and is thus, Gladiator Junction (great train reference, right?)
Across the road from the café is the feed store and grain mill. If you have any kind of livestock, dogs, cats, or pet-type birds, this is the place to come. The ladies there can tell you exactly what to feed whatever critter you have based on its species, age, and ultimate purpose (production or meat). And they never even bat an eye when you ask which flock feed will wash down the bathtub drain better, crumbles or pellets. They can even tell you how other people who keep their ducks in the tub exercise them. Yep. Ducks in the bathtub isn’t strange around here.
Right in the middle of the main drag (which is about a block and a half in total) is The Bloated Goat Saloon. Yep. The Goat, as we call it, is the place to go for cheap whiskey, greasy hamburgers, and a close up look at real bikers who ride in for the Easy Riders event every summer. Since the goat on the sign is clearly a billy or wether I assume the food made it bloat and not pregnancy. The last time I was at the Goat it had a couple of pool tables. I assume there still there but I can’t say for sure. You’ll have to check that out yourself.
There’s a small market that was, for many years, an IGA (if you don’t understand Google it). Then it moved up, I suppose, the small town grocery chain ladder and became a Spartan store. People around here just loved that since we’re closer to Michigan State University and their Spartans than the University of Michigan and the Wolverines. But now, mostly due to the super Walmart that moved in outside the village limits the market is closing. Not to worry. It happens every few years and someone always bravely steps in to battle the Walmart Goliath.
Also outside the village limits is the county fairground. This is the spot where generations of county kids have shown their various livestock from steers to chickens. My own boys showed two of their breeds of rabbits, lambs, and poultry there. And the fair boasted some really big names for the concerts! We’ve had Travis Tritt and LeAnn Rimes along with other country superstars play the fair!
We had an ice cream parlor named Lumpy & Goomers until either Lumpy or Goomer (no one really knows which is which) was arrested for sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual conduct of his female teenage employees.
Ice cream perv
The parlor was sold because no one wants criminal sexual conduct ice cream and is now only open during warm weather. It’s now called Dairyville and it’s a great little place but I really miss saying “It’s right down the road from Lumpy & Goomers”!
We have a Christmas parade that has started to draw folks from all over the region. This year it was reported that tens of thousands of people showed up for the event. I hope they brought tents. The village isn’t exactly rich with hotel rooms. I’m going to do an entire post on the parade because it’s not just the parade. It’s a two day event and features hot air balloons from around the country!
We have our own vocabulary, as well. Of course we share terminology with the other tiny villages that are so abundant around here.
Going uptown means you’re going from your home in an outlying township to the village or areas village adjacent. This can mean you’ll end up at the 4 corners or as far east as the post office out on Cemetery Road, as far south as Walmart, or as far north as the big park (as opposed to the little park about a block south of the big park but on the other side of the road). Going west “uptown” only extends to
Lumpy & Goomers Dairyville because Hungry Howie’s doesn’t count as they deliver. You can stay downtown if you go uptown but you can never actually go downtown.
The 4 corners is the beating heart of this metropolis. It’s the traffic light right there in the middle of…well…the four corners that make up the downtown of uptown. I understand if you need to stop reading to pour some Bloated Goat whiskey now.
Now some folks throw in an extra “up” when they go uptown. For example, I heard someone say he was going uptown to go up the hardware store. That extra “up” is just showing off and means he’s probably not really from here. Unless it had some kind of weird, risqué power tool meaning my sons would have to explain to me. Not that they participate in weird, risqué power tool behavior but they’re guys so they know things.
So that’s my village. I’m sure you want to move in as soon as possible but please let us know first. We’ll have to go uptown to get paint at the hardware sign to change the population on the “Welcome” sign.