We live in a small town, Doylestown, Ohio, population 3000, 1.88 sq. miles. Technically, we live outside the “Village” in Chippewa Township which brings the total area of our community to 36 sq. miles and swells the total population to 7000. This weekend we celebrated our annual Rogues’ Hollow Festival, enjoying small town America at its finest. The weekend began with a parade and it seemed that anyone with a church, a civic group, or a tractor joined in — the sidewalk overflowed with senior citizens and young families with children scurrying to grab candy tossed from floats. There was great music, Lion’s BBQ chicken, corn dogs, and of course, funnel cakes. The weekend culminated in a Saturday night fireworks display.
As the fireworks began, my husband and I ducked into an alley between two local businesses to get a better view. Occasional couples or groups of teens passed through as we watched the fireworks, and one unfortunate group walked through at the same time as the Village mayor and a Township trustee. For some odd reason, the mayor barked, “You kids! Get back there!” and pointed them back to the main street of the festival. The kids looked a bit startled, but mumbled their “OK”s and obediently headed back to the street.
I don’t know if the boys — they looked to be around 14-years old — knew that the man was the mayor or that he had no actual authority to order them back to the festival. But they did what they were told without question. The encounter took me back to my childhood, to the neighborhood I grew up in where everyone’s parents sort of did have the authority to discipline everyone else’s children. And if the neighbor’s parents saw you stepping out of line, you could be sure your parents (and all the other neighbors) would hear about it by the time the streetlights came on. Respect for the authority of your elders was unquestioned. My parents preached it and they modeled it as did most other adults in our community. Two-parent families were the norm; the first divorce sent shockwaves down the street. I remember hearing neighbors talking about it in hushed voices — divorce was still so uncommon then that it was scandalous.