Documentary Small-town Vibes

Talent, Oregon (far from the madding crowd)
Miguel Tejada-Flores
I live in an area with multiple smaller towns or cities, in southern Oregon. Talent, my adopted home town, has a population of approximately 7,500 souls. Neighboring Ashland, home to the tourist attracting OSF (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), has a population of around 25,000, give or take. Phoenix, just to the north of Talent, has a bit more than 5,000 inhabitants, while Medford, the truly 'enormous' (by southern Oregon standards) city, has maybe 50,000 residents. It also boasts a small regional airport, and several large Costco-style box stores. The point being that life in smaller towns and cities - where everyone seems to know everyone else - has a different rhythm and vibe to it, than life in L.A. or San Francisco, not to mention NYC or Mexico City. The other thing about smaller towns is, they don't have endless suburbs which stretch on for miles and hours; when you reach city limits, there is often farmland, woods, or open country just outside of town - something that doesn't happen all that much when one lives in the larger metropoli. Small towns have old Diners, ancient Mom & Pop grocery stores, and occasional inquisitive quadruped visitors, including deer, raccoons and the ubiquitous coyotes, who sometimes stroll about casually, in search of the nourishment we all need.

I'm starting this thread to both document my own small-town images - and those of anyone else who'd care to post or participate.

This photo was taken in downtown Phoenix, which suffered the same disastrous wildfire 2 years ago that burned its way through parts of my town, and burned nearly a quarter of Phoenix itself, including this portion of its admittedly rural downtown. The local donut shop burned up - but, surprisingly, the large fiberglass donut sculpture out in front of the old store, survived. Now the donut shop has been rebuilt into a new building, which, supposedly, will reopen again... soon.

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Not all small towns have a donut shop. Talent, where I live, has several coffee shops, but no dedicated Donutery. But in the near future, when one has a donut fix, Puck's is only 5 minutes away.

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A few lifetimes ago, when I lived in southern California, there were dozens of donut shops around. But here, in southern Oregon, where espresso-centric Cafés proliferate, having a local donut place (which serves relatively weak coffee) ... suggests that maybe the world isn't as screwed-up as one might have feared.
Murals are an urban, big-city phenomenon.
But they pop up in small towns, a variety of ways, and for a variety of reasons.
This one was painted a few years ago in my home town of Talent.
As an act of civic beautification, perhaps.
But also I'm guessing, as a way to remind people... of where they are.

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Another thing you see a lot of, in smaller towns, where folks don't have a lot of money, and often work a variety of jobs just to 'get by', is--- the ubiquitous tarp. Short for tarpaulin. Which sometimes is an impromptu vehicle cover to keep a motorcycle or a car out of the sun or rain or snow. But even more often you see tarps on roofs - covering spots where the shingles or the roof itself have worn out or worn through or fallen off - and the residents, lacking the wherewithal to get it fixed, tack or duck tape or nail a tarp in place... literally to keep the rain out. Out behind my old farm house, tarps have sometimes covered piles of split firewood which need to be moved or stacked but in the interim period, you don't want them to get wet.

In this case - taken in the neighboring small town of Phoenix, Oregon - the roof was the first spot that obviously needed tarping, but I'm guessing the firewood will be next.


Although, come to think of it, would you want to put a fire-burning wood stove inside your not-totally-airtight trailer?
Although, come to think of it, would you want to put a fire-burning wood stove inside your not-totally-airtight trailer?
A good way to get carbon monoxide poisoning I should think. People die from sharing confined spaces with charcoal barbecues and suchlike, and the smoking embers of a wood stove must be a similar hazard.

Nice pictures, I should add 😎

One sees sights like this in many small towns in Oregon. I'm guessing it is much the same in the neighboring states to both north (Washington) and south (California).

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In bigger cities, unwanted furniture gets donated, or thrown out. In small towns, as often as not, you leave it out in the road... because someone else could possibly use it.
Love this thread idea, Miguel.

One of the best things about Kentucky, is that you can live in a larger city. But be in a small town, many times within 30-45 minutes. One of those small towns being close to where I live, West Point. Also, almost every small town in Ky has one or more local stores/gas stations with a deli which serves an amazing ham sandwich. When we used to go exploring for an entire day, our tradition was to find a small town ham sandwich for lunch. Then Mexican food with beers for dinner.

Every small town has the General store.
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Miguel, the suburb we live in (actually council area, that the powers that be call the "City of Bayside" - self important wankers ... ) has some 80,000 residences.

We are an hour's drive from the surrounding countryside in pretty much every direction. The City of Greater Melbourne is about 1,500 square miles, with around 5.5 million inhabitants, give or take.

We're Were it not for my medical needs, I would happily live in a small town.
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One characteristic of many small towns: everyone knows everyone else. So when you stop in at a local Café or Diner, there are always moments where people recognize and greet others. In this case, my visiting brother-in-law (Stanley, with the beard) is being greeted by my old friend and neighbor (Olof).

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