Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Advantages of Living in a Small Town

From time to time someone asks what were the best parts of growing up in a small town. While there are several things that come to mind whenever I ponder that question, one story always replays in my mind.

While in high school, my Mom had bought a Yamaha Champ 50cc scooter. Because it was 50ccs, a motorcycle license was not required to operate the scooter on public streets.

My Dad had ridden a Harley 125 when he was in high school, and the scooter had got him to thinking. He decided he would like to get his motorcycle endorsement on his driver's license in case he ever decided to buy another motorcycle.

In our little Southwest Georgia town, the State Patrol came to the city court house once a month for driver's exams. Otherwise you drove 30 miles to the State Patrol post for exams. Dad elected to wait until the day the Troopers came to town. He rode the Champ to the court house and took the written test. Although the troopers had computerized testing a the State Patrol post, when they came out to the local court house, it was literally a written test - pencil and paper. Dad completed his written exam and gave it to the trooper. The trooper reviewed it and announced he had passed.

Dad then requested to take the riding portion of the exam. The Trooper asked if he had something to ride for the exam. Dad said he did and it was parked outside. So they walked out and he pointed to the Champ. The Trooper looked at the little scooter and said, "You want to take the motorcycle riding exam on that?" Dad said he did. The Trooper scratched his head a second and then said "OK. Here is how this is gonna work. If you can ride that thing to the corner and back without falling off, you pass." Dad rode to the corner, made a long slow U-turn, and rode back. The Trooper walked inside and completed his paperwork. Dad has had a motorcycle endorsement on his drivers license ever since.

This was a very different experience to the exam I was subjected to in Atlanta 30 years later. There are some advantages to living in a small town.


RichardM said...

When I first saw the title, my reaction was "Atlanta, small?!". Nice story but I don't have any experience living in a small town. Before Fairbanks, I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles. Not very small town-ish. So, did your dad ever buy a bike?


Allen Madding said...

Hey Richard,

He certainly did, http://allenmadding.blogspot.com/2008/11/old-man-rides-again.html

But there was a huge time gap between this story (1979) and his buying a motorcycle (2008). He since has decided that age and reflexes demand that he give up riding and has sold it.

Thanks for reading and commenting.


SonjaM said...

Advantage? I wouldn't necessarily see it that way. As easy as the small town endorsement sounds, how would that make a safe rider?

Nothing wrong with setting the bar high in motorcycle training, and make it a challenge and a privilege to get endorsed, right? It is your life on the line...

Bill (cycleguy) said...

Test comment. Will explain.

Bill (cycleguy) said...

I served a church in a town of 65,000 and 35,000 and now serve in a town of 3000. I will take the small town any day. I think someone missed the point of the post. :)

Tried to post this morning but wouldn't let me. Having trouble posting on anything with blogger. Think it is fixed now.

Allen Madding said...

I fully support training, have taken MSF training myself. The point of my post was that a lot of things are simpler in small towns.


Allen Madding said...

Bill, my cycleguy friend,
Its funny. I grew up in a town of 3500, went to college in a town of 30,000, and now live outside a city of 5.475 million (what was I thinking?)

I see a smaller town in my future.

Thanks for reading and commenting


irondad said...

I, too, grew up in a small town. Everybody knew what it meant to be a neighbor.

Only trouble is, my Grandfather was the assistant police chief. Everybody knew everybody. I never got away with anything!

Unknown said...


I thought, alright, here we go - I'll have something in common with this, but I think your town was smaller than mine. (I concede, you win) And the test made me laugh, quite literally, out loud. Thanks for sharing, I liked that one.

Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mr. Maddening:

I apologize for beinng away the past couple of weeks. I was in a mental institution gearing up for a run at a Congressonal seat.

I contest Sonja's claim that the test your Dad got did nothing to guarantee that he was a safer rider. Considering the number of SQUID that get processed in the nation's emergency rooms, testing makes no guarantee for them either.

However, living in a small town can usually get you a plumber in the middle of the night, the mayor on the third ring of his phone, and the building inspector at 5 minutes of 5pm on a Friday afternoon.

I was in a motor vehicle office in a rural county seat im upstate New York years ago, when I walked in the door at 2:45pm for a transaction.

There were three of the nicest ladies in the world behind the counter. One looked at the other two and said, "We have to go through Albany to deal with this." They all looked at the clock and busted out laughing. Then they stamped my ticket and said, "Have a nice day."

I'll take the small town any day of the week.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

Allen Madding said...

Irondad -
I can totally understand. Even though my Dad worked construction and was out of town 5 days a week, somehow he always knew everything I ever did. The small town network was quite impressive considering it was pre-cellphone, texting, email, internet days :)


Allen Madding said...

Brady -

I made you laugh? SCORE!


Allen Madding said...

reep -
I used to get really ticked when the local merchant didn't have something I wanted that they would begin trying to sell me something I didn't want and claim it was "just as good". But the traffic was certainly more manageable. And personally knowing the mayor and the presidents of both banks never hurt anything either.

Good luck in the run for Congress. I'd suggest a labotomy so you are fully qualified for the job.


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