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Jack Simpson - 10/30/09
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Don't you like small towns? I do, because they make you feel like you are at home. This community is a place where old-timers have roots, some deeper than others of us. Among people who have lived here for a lifetime there is a special closeness and a sharing. And, there are "regulars."

Where can you easily spot a "regular?" I recommend a trip to Olde Town and Evans Drug Store. You can find regulars here every day, and you will see them socializing over a cup of coffee gathered at the round tables near the soda fountain.

You get a nice, warm feeling entering a familiar place to be greeted with smiles and friendly handshakes from people you have known for a long, long time. It is nice to chat and exchange news about local and world events, and even gossip a bit if you have a mind to. You can feel comfortable among friends in such special places, which are not all that common in big cities. Yes, some do exist.

You may have a favorite restaurant where you meet and greet regulars known to you. It is always interesting to me to see how well some of the service people know their repeat customers.

One place I go for lunch often is an example. The counter man asks, "Want your regular?" When I say yes, he prepares my meal without any further input from me, and he never makes a mistake. Being a regular has its advantages.

This kind of rapport can only be found among people with close ties, frequent association and a special friendship. It is exceptional to share this kind of relationship found frequently in small towns.

Once this small town was a place of peace and quiet. It was a place where you frequently saw wildlife and had to shoo some of the critters out of your vegetable garden. You could walk your streets and play in your parks with relative safety. You seldom met a stranger.

Local schools, churches, social clubs and the regulars and cops on the beat were all part of the glue holding a real nice, small town together. These people and institutions gave this small town its unique character. The local newspaper helped by being a main source of information. Stories told by local news reporters helped build our identity and assured us of the special place we called home.

Change has come. The big city is encroaching and people are arriving who know little of our history and culture. They do not know what made us special. They have not been to our schools, churches, or mingled with our "regulars." Some folks will do so and will one day themselves be regulars. Others have not come here to learn. They will not sit on our street benches and swap stories with neighbors. These people are here to steal, rob, kill and destroy what is special. Criminals have no sense of identity, no appreciation of the history and culture of this small town. They come looking for victims.

Criminals will only make us insecure. They will not contribute to our community in any positive way. Regulars know this and will support local law enforcement and stand together to rid this town of things threatening our safety and our way of life.

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Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.