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Berks County small towns have a nostalgic charm

By Mike Zielinski, Host of The Mike Zielinski Show

Feb 13, 2020
Mike Zielinski

While I have lived my whole life in the suburbs, I’ve always thought that people who live in a small town nestled amidst a rural setting are blessed.

Driving through the downtowns of Hamburg, Kutztown, Boyertown, Fleetwood and Oley and their nearby countryside that should be painted in watercolor and preserved on a postcard gives me a warming, traditional feel about small town rural life.

Some words that come to mind are charm, character, placid, idyllic, bucolic, serene and nostalgic.

In such a comforting environment, you likely can shrug off minor problems like a cocker spaniel sheds water. When you seldom sweat anything, your spirit never gets dehydrated.

When a location features a vibrant town center surrounded by scenic vistas, it has it all.

Strictly rural areas with no downtown center are as featureless as the wind. They lack identity and communal connection.

Strictly dense urban areas with no breathing room are as congesting as pneumonia. You shouldn’t need a crowbar to get some elbow room. Space is a precious commodity envied by honeycombed urban dwellers.

In an increasingly global age, there is something remarkable about people who never leave their hometown.

Perhaps there is a good reason why the winds of wanderlust never blow at the backs of many people living the small-town rural life.

Insular doesn’t necessarily translate into confining. Sometimes it’s a good thing to need a periscope to see the rest of the world.

There are ample reasons why small towns have a hypnotic hold on people.

You won’t get robbed in a subway station or spend a fortune taking a cab for a dozen city blocks.

You won’t get stuck in an elevator on the 96th floor of a skyscraper.

In a small town, you seldom open a huge can of hurt when you open your door. Unlike large cities, the night is not crowded with hostile voices and vices.

Let me preface the advantages of small-town rural living by saying that generalizations and stereotypes may not be gospel up to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John standards, but as an outsider looking in, they do seem rather obvious.

For starters, small towns are pure catnip to folks who love a quieter, simpler life.

Some other advantages in no particular order are a greater sense of community, less traffic, easy access to fresh food, lower crime levels, traditional values, hometown hyperlocal weekly newspapers, slower pace, greater focus on nature and the outdoors, cleaner air, better environment, more outdoor recreational opportunities, more affordable housing, lower car insurance rates, nourishing environment to raise children, fewer distractions of modern fluff to contend with, fewer homeless people and panhandlers and less risk that scum from the streets will ooze through your door.

The absence of smog in small-town rural areas is a celestial blessing. It’s beautiful to see the Milky Way at night. Or fireflies dancing on a summer eve.

And please don’t forget that there is something to be said about being a big fish in a small pond.

Living in a small town just a 5-iron shot away from the country gives you a constant reminder that nothing sprouts unless you stick it in dirt.

No wonder small towns and their nearby rural environs have rich topsoil where you can lay down deep roots.

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