Try Small Town Life

If you're tired of urban living but not quite ready to tackle the work involved in establishing a farmstead, small town life might be the solution.

| March/April 1979

  • 056 small town life 5 mississippi river.jpg
    Small towns like Savana, IL and small town life thrive on the banks of the majestic Mississippi River. —an important artery in the transportation of America's industrial and agricultural products.
  • 056 small town life 2 stick fort.jpg
    Our son Matthew constructs a log fort with deadwood scavenged from the nearby forest.
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    Outdoor play in the fields and woods surrounding our home has opened up whole new worlds to our "city" children in all seasons.
  • 056 small town life 4 pony.jpg
    A visit to the neighbor's pony "Prince" is always a thrill for our daughter Elisabeth.
  • 056 small town life 1 plowing.jpg
    Though we only have a small garden, there are many productive farms around Savanna that are good sources of inexpensive (and high quality!) food. This farmer still trims his hillside pastures with a horse-drawn mower.

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  • 056 small town life 2 stick fort.jpg
  • 056 small town life 3 sledding.jpg
  • 056 small town life 4 pony.jpg
  • 056 small town life 1 plowing.jpg

The crowds and smog around our city home finally got to us, and my wife Pat and I were eager to head for clean air and the country life. We weren't, however, sure that we wanted to live in seclusion or that we would be happy without such amenities as electricity or indoor plumbing. So, instead of heading "back to the land," we decided to settle in a small town. There we found that small town life and the old-fashioned, easygoing village lifestyle was everything we could have hoped for!

Good Livin' in a Small Community

The state of our family finances made it necessary for me to find employment in our new home before we attempted to move. It didn't take long, however, for me to discover that there was an editorial job open at a local newspaper in Savanna, Illinois. And that was all the encouragement that Pat and I needed. We packed up our three children and headed for the small (Savanna's population is about 5,000) village on the banks of the Mississippi River!

In a very short time Pat and I were settled into the community. We found an inexpensive old house to rent (such homes are usually available in small, non-industrialized towns), and—after another year of searching—were able to locate our "dream home" and buy it.

We were glad to discover that housing costs are less in villages, too. For $6,888 (a "good buy," even in 1964!) we got a completely furnished wood frame home on top of the highest bluff in Savanna. Our 30-by 35-foot back lot was soon converted into a garden. The woods surrounded us on every side. We found that deer, 'possum, rabbits, and so forth could be seen every day, often by simply looking out of a window. And we hung a feeder, our yard was filled with birds all year long. (Once we even caught sight of a bald eagle, and later discovered that this endangered bird still nests along parts of the Mississippi.)

Those Rural Rewards

With a little "touching up," our home became quite comfortable and (since we relax by working in the garden) the small backyard plot soon provided us with enough vegetables to enjoy some fresh from the ground and preserve the rest ... so our family could be sure to have a "taste of summer" during the long winter months.

And—along with our "own" lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, parsley, beets, and turnips—we found that our new neighbors were downright insistent that we share in the bounty of their gardens, too! This informal "swappin' " (of course we returned their gifts in kind) provided us with a wide variety of tasty homegrown fruits and vegetables.

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