I’ve been on a sort of quest for the last couple of years to find and informally document small town America. It’s fun to listen to the breakfast conversations of strangers and to chat with the shop owner who knows the story behind the painting you’re buying.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the people I’ve met and places I’ve been and wonder how they are and how badly they’ve been impacted by the pandemic.
Many of the people I interact with on the road are diner waitresses and small business owners. They’re not wealthy in the first place and their businesses are dependent on tourists.
Unemployment is slow. Stimulus checks only go so far. I hope they’re ok and look forward to getting back out there on the road to meet more folks and leave a little money behind.
The picture above is from downtown Mansfield, Ohio. The diner is a local greasy spoon where the waitress automatically poured a drink for the elderly woman at the table next to mine. It’s nothing fancy but the service was good and the prices fair. I hope that elderly lady is ok too.
Across the street there’s a gorgeous carousel where kids of all ages can take a ride for just a buck. My own mother took her first carousel ride there last fall at the age of 67.
Across town is the Ohio State Reformatory, an old prison that caters to tourists who flock to where they filmed the movie Shawshank Redemption.
Small town America is filled with places and people just like those in Mansfield. All those jobs depend on visitors who can’t come right now. Lots of people like me are dying to get back out there for tours and rides and fun. Let’s hope they’re able to survive and open up again as soon as it’s safe.