Small towns no matter where they are seem to live by a simple motto: If the truth is not bad enough then make up a good lie! I have now lived in three what would be called “small towns,” two in Kansas and one in Oklahoma. All seem to live by the motto one way or another. The first, Sterling, a small town whose biggest claim to fame is the Christian College located there. Sterling, where West Sterling road is on the East Side of town, so of course East Sterling road is on the West Side.
It was rumored that there is a nudists camp somewhere to the South of town. Where exactly it is seems unknown, as you will get at least five different directions from five different people. As to how this rumor got started is a real question. But I think it started when a female co-ed at the Christian College finally admitted her top-less sunbathing somewhere on the Arkansas River South of the town! But then that would not be worth a continued telling a nudist camp would be.
Sterling was my first exposure to the know all people of a small town. I knew very few people in town but one day learned that many knew of me. We had three cats, a white one, a black one and a black and white one. After not seeing our black and white one for a few days, I went door to door asking if they had seen it. Two blocks to the South I knocked on an elderly lady’s door and told her I was looking for one of my cats. Before I could even say where I lived, she started in, “Oh which one? The black one, the white one or the black and white one?” Before I could answer she went on, “Oh you are Greg and Debbie’s brother-in-law and your wife is Debbie’s sister and you work at the college and your wife works at the laundry in Lyons. You moved here from Wichita and use to work at the Ark manufacturing and….”
I stood there dumbfounded! I knew very little of my neighbors and only knew such details about close friends. The CIA could take lessons from small town people about gathering information!
The next was Rush Springs, OK. Here, armed with my foreknowledge of small town living, I thought I was prepared. But it was there that I saw almost on a daily basis the living example of the Motto. All it took for you to be having a full blow affair was to be seen talking to anyone of the opposite sex. A rumor flowed around town like the waters of a dam breaking, the chief of Police was screwing around on his wife with Miss Alturas (funny how no matter if a woman was married or not they were always “Miss”).
And what evidence was there that this affair was going on, I asked the chief one day? Miss Alturas is a seventy-five year old woman who is hard of hearing and half blind but still drove herself everywhere. She ran the four way stop sign in the center of town and almost caused a collision. He fell in behind her and with red lights and siren going, followed her nearly five miles outside of town before she stopped. She had not noticed him behind her till then. Her wrote her a ticket and told her that she would have to pass a test before she could continue to drive. But somewhere because they were seen talking there must have been sex involved!
One night a young couple was horsing around with the girl riding on the back of her boyfriend. She fell off and landed on some broken glass and cut her forearm. They came to the Police department and I dressed the wound and told the boyfriend she needed to go to the E.R. as she might need stitches. After they left I turned to a fellow officer and said that within an hour the story would involve a deadly weapon and the girl dying! Sure enough, an hour later I encountered an outraged citizen. She was upset I had not arrested Mike after he had taken a chain saw and cut off Stacie’s arm in the parking lot of the gas station!
It was a no win situation for me. Because I seldom was seen talking to women some of the town’s people thought I was Gay. While those who had seen me talking to women in the role of a Police officer had me getting all kinds of sexual acts committed on me in public. When ever an outraged citizen brought up the subject my response was always the same, “Gee I wish someone had waked me up! I must have been asleep and it sounds like I was having a good time.”
Sometimes it would be the woman themselves that was spreading the rumors. It got back to me that this one woman was going around town saying she had sex with every cop in town, including me. One night I saw her in a parking lot talking with her friends. I stopped and told her I had heard that we had sex. I then informed her no offense but if the end came and she, a man and myself was the only humans left, I would turn Gay! The rumor suddenly stopped about her and I having sex.
The day my wife and I was going to the next town to the South we came across a Cessna 150 that had made a forced landing on highway 81. There was already several law enforcement there so they did not need my help. As we drove off I said hide and watch by the time I go on duty tonight it would have been a 747 forced down by the FBI, It will have been full of drugs and Terrorists! Within the hour of going on duty I was approached and asked if I had heard about the 747 the FBI shot down with a RPG and forced to land on 81 that was full of drugs? OK I was off by the terrorist!
Augusta KS is the third, and the one where the religious ridicules are in full power! Out of no where the churches somehow got the idea that the local schools were going to start teaching Native American religious practices. The school board meeting started being over ran by Christians and there were four petitions flowing around through the churches. All this was news to the school board members and to the school administration. My sense of humor kicked in and I took every opportunity to say something about my kids still needing a loincloth and the stone scarifying knife. I asked everyone if they knew where I could find them?
But the best to my mind and the one that always got the most reactions was the adult business rumor.
When the Kwik-shop closed somewhere the rumor started that either a Wichita based porn shop or an escort service wanted to open up in the building. The level of outrage surpasses the facts or truth about the subject. I loved stating I was in support of “Adult Businesses” after the lectures and condemnations I would suffer, I smiled, and said because I do not think that children have the sensibilities to run a business.
The next was even better! When the subject was brought up I would say I am thinking of opening an adult orientated business. Either a Christian X rate video exchange or a Transvestite-transgender-Lesbian store. You know, one that is for Lesbians who think they are really men trapped in a woman’s body but like to dress like a woman! I do not think that Kansas has one of those stores? I would get a berating and damned to Hell. All the time the self righteous and holier then thou would dance around like a flea on a hot surface. Until they stopped and really thought about it then accuse me of trying to be funny! Yeah I was busted!
But it also means I have adapted well to living in a small town.