In my sleepy little borough of, Vienna (pronounced Vie Anna as we aren’t uppity), Ohio the busiest worker is employed at the gas station on the corner of Rt. 193 and Old Rt. 82. He is the employee who changes the sign with the station’s price of gas. It seems to be an hourly job and the numbers always get larger. It’s a busy place with the pumps either having a yellow bag over them as they are empty or have a car filling up the tank. People are trying to beat the signs next hourly jump. Depending what time of day it is at the corner of 193 and New 82 at Yankee Kitchen the cook is either flipping an omelet of a burger. Both are delicious and should be had with a side of hash browns. The place is noisy as it is crowded and who ever designs libraries was not consulted in sound deadening this diner. If it’s near breakfast time a block down Rt. 193 the convenient store is hopping and the parking lot is full. Java junkies on their way to work have stopped to get their daily early morning fix. Those who have taken out a second mortgage on their home now have the cash to buy a pack of ciggies. They exit the store opening the pack after doing the smoker dance (holding the pack in one hand while smacking it back and forth in the palm of the other hand). Every other worker on their way to work buys a few scratch off lottery tickets. They then sit in the car scratching the tickets hoping for enough of a win so that they don’t have to go to work that day or any other day.
You don’t see any homeless begging for money outside of any of the businesses. On the other hand outside the locally owned IGA grocery store the American Legion is selling their paper poppies. If they aren’t there it’s the high school band or pee wee football team collecting donations. The IGA’s owner/operators the Turners are good community folks who let the local schools organizations use their water supply to wash cars for fund-raisers in the parking lot. The Turners have a great wine and beer selection at their store. They carry my favorite beer, Straub and Mr. and Mrs. E’s favorite wines, New York’s Bully Hill, Sweet Walter’s Red and Ohio’s Chalet Debonne’s, River Rouge. They have a great in store bakery and deli and a nice selection of meat. The town’s Chevrolet dealer closed up a few years ago but the other two parts of being an American apple pie and hot dogs can be found at the IGA. Until recently we had two hardware stores (one’s elderly owner died) which makes us more of a hardware than software town. There is one doctor located in town and also my dentist. We are a town of churches having over half a dozen.
Vienna can get a little exotic as we do have Zebras, Camels, Water Buffalos, Ostriches, Llamas and Buffalo. Luckily, they are fenced in at Wagon Trails Animal Park. You won’t find such an assortment of animals anywhere else in Trumbull County. A note to hunters, Wagon Trails is a no hunting zone but a great place for school field trips.
We don’t have any strip clubs but we have a place where you might be strip searched. That would be the Youngstown Airport and the airbase which are both located in Vienna. The airport seems to be always struggling to get more flights out of it. Ridge Road is our enterprise zone which in capitalist speak means the area where businesses set up because they have hit the lottery know as taxpayer-funded, corporate welfare. I couldn’t tell you what business is in the few large structures on that road as they tend to leave after their tax abatements are up in search of new taxpayer suckers. We have a country club on Rt.193 that most of Vienna’s citizens have not ever been at unless we were cutting their grass or washing their dishes. Near the country club is an exclusive neighborhood called, Creekside. Most of the lots these huge homes were built on cost more than the average person’s home in Vienna. Our children do not know the children that live here as these children go to fancy private schools in the Cleveland area like, Gilmore Academy.
I stop at the IGA after work to get a gallon of milk and the cashier informs me my wife just stopped and bought milk. When Hillary Clinton said, “It takes a village to raise a child” (originally an African proverb) she was talking about, Vienna. Next door neighbors or any other parent from the community will tell you they saw your child driving too fast, not wearing a seat belt, smoking or cursing etc. They’ll also compliment you on some accomplishment your child has done in sports or academia. A number of years ago I was proud to have a new Vienna resident tell me my son was the first student to welcome their son to school and befriend him.
What I really want to say about living in a small town like this is how people come together in times of need. I remember how the community put on a local carnival to help with medical bills for a boy who had cancer and one hit by a car. My 92 year-old mother-in-law lives in Vienna also. Her neighbors have taken it upon themselves to snow plow her drive, take out her garbage and get her newspaper and mail. A number of years ago Mrs. E. became ill and my neighbors brought food, flowers, cards and got my kids on and off the bus.
These are the kinds of things people only think happened back in the 1950’s. I’m here to tell you they happen in small towns across this country today. When people see others in need I believe they want to help but don’t always know what to do. A good place to start is to ask these four little word of the person needing help, “What can I do?” You can also just do what you can. For example my neighbor who is retired has a snow plow on his garden tractor and plows out the neighborhoods drives during heavy snowfalls. At the end of your life which is more important things you saw or things you actually contributed to? I think people don’t want to be mere spectators in life but want to be participants. If people try it I think they will find that volunteering and participating is the highest form of nourishment. The people I like to hang out with all have heart problems. That problem is that they have bottomless pockets on their hearts which is the best kind of heart problem to have! Wouldn’t the best eulogy someone can say about you be, “He lessened the pains of the Earth.”
I may live on a dead-end street but I don’t have to have a dead-end view of the world. Look around and see how you can make your local community better and then keep broadening your size of community until it includes the entire planet. We’ll all be better for it.
Hal Ketchum: Small Town Saturday Night
Justin Moore: Small Town USA
“One of the pleasant things about small town life is that everyone, whether rich or poor, liked or disliked, has some kind of a role and place in the community. I never felt that living in a city — as I once did for a couple of years. Edward Abbey
This will show you the great humor my fellow Viennese have.