Growing up in a small town gives you a unique perspective on the world. Every small town has its funny quirks and characters. Small town living can give people a deeper sense of community. You feel like you really know your neighbors, for better or for worse.
This lifestyle can be a shock to those of us used to living in bigger cities, and stuff that can seem totally normal in these tight-knit communities can seem downright bizarre to outsiders. Sometimes the stories can get pretty crazy. These fourty-five residents share some of the unique and strange moments you only get to see living in a small town.
45. Cardboard Villain
I grew up in a small town in central NJ, which is probably nothing like what you’d expect – mostly cow pastures and hay farms, and two intersecting roads with a supermarket, burger king, and bank. And a lot of cops with nothing to do.
So one day the call comes in that there’s a suspicious person in the bank, during a weekday (when it was closed). Immediately the place is surrounded by dozens of cops, guns drawn, the whole nine yards. They use the loudspeaker to try to talk the guy out without a fight, but he doesn’t respond. In fact, he doesn’t even appear to be moving; he’s just standing still. A standoff ensues and lasts for the better part of two hours, before the cops have the presence of mind to break down the doors and confront the man, who still hasn’t moved.
The “bank robber” was a cardboard cutout man who was part of an advertisement.
Life in small town America.
44. I Guess She Did It For The Rush
I used to work at a pizzeria, and we would deliver large orders to the nearby elementay school for the PTA meetings and parties and stuff. This was at least twice a month. I would pull up and immediately the PTA treasurer would have my money ready for me along with two students to help carry the pizza. Nicest lady ever. She’s on trial (last I heard) for stealing around $22,000 from the PTA fund.
Keep in mind this is in a small town and her husband is wealthy, so it’s not like she absolutely needed the money.
43. Collateral Damage
42. Accidentally Married
41. That’s The Ticket
My small town had a scandal about 10-ish years ago where one of the convenience store clerks somehow managed to convince about half of the Police Department to be intimate with her in exchange for not giving out tickets to her and her friends. I really don’t remember how it all unfolded, but I do remember that it really hit the entire town hard, and that it basically destroyed any trust anyone had for the police — which led to the cops being more aggressive on things such as writing tickets to try and get more funding for themselves.
40. Quite An Education
39. Share Alike
38. How Aboot It?
We had this local lady. Everybody called her “Crazy Tina”.
She had a garden in her front yard, which sounds normal… But she was “growing” rubber boots. Yeah. She had planted like 20 or so rubber boots with just the tops hanging out. And she had another 30 or so just in a huge pile. It’s been there for as long as I can remember.
She decided one day that she was going to paint her house, which again sounds kind of normal… Except instead of doing it like a normal person, she bought a can of spray paint. And instead of spray painting like a normal person to try to get even coverage, she just sprayed it all over… That led to more people going up to her house and spray painting stuff on it.
Then I guess she got tired of that so she ripped off like half of her siding. Not all of it, no. Just half.
And man, if you ever walk down the street she lives on, she’d be yelling, “Get away from my house!” and then you’d have to run away from her and everything. She was nuts. She was like that crazy cat lady from The Simpsons, but she had no cats.
37. Old Enough To Party
I was 16, hanging out on the roof of a local establishment (because what the heck else are you gonna do in small town America?), when a cop in uniform offered me a drink.
I’m, 25 now and still occasionally get ID’d, so it’s not like I’ve ever looked older than I am.
36. Queen Cow
My home town has an endless supply of these stories.
Every spring my home town has a Livestock Festival, a weeklong celebration of livestock! One lucky high school girl is crowned the “Livestock Queen” and presides over the festivities. A prestigious position to be sure!
During the livestock week tickets are sold to an event called “cow patty bingo” in which an indoor showroom is divided into over a hundred small squares and a cow is released onto the floor. If you are lucky enough to have the cow poop into the square you had chosen, you my friend are a winner!
35. This Is Our Town
34. An Astonishingly Successful Getaway Bicycle
A bank robber on a bicycle outran the cops.
33. Imaginary History
When I was in high school, some friends and I drove down to Chillicothe, IL to play paintball. I was a little surprised that only a couple hours from Chicago (where we were from) most of the people had southern accents, but just rolled with it. Good times are had, and eventually we head back home.
As we try to leave though, we are stopped because of some sort of parade on the main road. Turns out it is a tractor procession where all of the tractors carried Confederate flags. We freaked out, partially because Illinois was not part of the Confederacy and was, in fact, one of the largest suppliers of troops and supplies to the Union forces. But also because, you know, that whole Land of Lincoln thing.
32. A Sacrifice?
Grew up in a little town in Alaska. On April 1, 1974, a dude hired a helicopter to bring hundreds of old tires to the dormant volcano that can be seen from town and dump them. He set them on fire, scaring the heck out of everybody.
31. Wounded In Action
I grew up in Memphis but I used to go to this really small town in Arkansas a couple weekends a month. I got a bowl cut with an actual bowl on my head by a barber with three fingers on one hand.
30. Family Prom
I once lived in a small town in the Appalachians. The town was too small to support any kind of hospital, but they had a diner that functioned as both the local watering hole, and the doctor’s office (the doctor owned the place and also served as the main cook). You could sit at the bar next to someone and not know if they were getting something to eat, or if they were about to get inoculated.
This town was very, very small and remote. The schoolhouse I went to is the smallest public school in that state by a long shot. The senior class (this school went K-12, and still only had about 40 kids, not all of them lived in the town) did a family tree project and discovered that they were all related. Not even distantly; it was like third cousin or something. The punchline – they still held prom.
Also, our “neighbor” who lived somewhat close as the crow flies, but about 45 minutes driving through mountains, gave my mom her old wood-fired range because she had just been hooked up with electricity and didn’t need it anymore. Keep in mind that this was the mid 90’s.
I have too many stories about that place and the crazy folks who live there. I didn’t think any towns like that still existed, but they’re out there. They’re kind of like time capsules.
29. Chew On That
I remember we had this old guy we called the “gum man”. he would hang out in the local Piggly Wiggly (a grocery store) all day and ask little kids if they had gone to church that week. If you told him you had he’d give you a piece of gum. It was only later in life that I found out that he would only give gum to white kids.
After typing this all out I realize how creepy the whole thing actually was…
28. Two Of My Favorite Things
I grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona in the 80’s. As a kid, one of my favorite places to go with my father was Ruff’s Guns and Liquor. And it was exactly what it sounds like – a combination gun and liquor store.
Another Flagstaff story: There was a small airport outside the town. Very small. In the morning, the elk would come through the tree-line and lay on the asphalt runway because it was warm. So every morning a bunch of guys would go out to the runway and basically run around screaming and clapping and flailing their arms to chase the elk away so that the airplanes could do what they do – mostly taking off, landing, and occasionally sliding into a field.
Eventually the elk got used to that. So then, they figured out one guy could go out, fire a shotgun into the trees, and the elk would take off. Then they got used to that. So it ended up, every morning these guys would go out to the runway and basically harass these elk until they finally got sick of it and wandered off. This went on for years until some genius (obviously not a local boy) came along and determined that putting up a fence might go a long way toward alleviating the Flagstaff Pulliam Airport’s elk problem.
27. Fun For The Whole Family
26. A Crazy Tom-Hanks Lookalike
We have a guy that you’ll see around town, that looks a lot like Tom Hanks. This guy is deaf and doesn’t really know how to speak but he is also a notorious lunatic and a massive jerk, personality-wise. Pretty much everyone you meet around here will have a story about him. Personally, I’ve seen him pulling daffodils apart in a judo suit and trying to scare people on the bus and he’s tried to push one of my friends into our one main road before.
Oh yeah and this one time when I was little he kicked my ball way above the roof when I was playing with my friends outside. It’s like, why you always have to be a jerk, Tom Hanks?
25. An Expensive Corn Field Party
I grew up in a small town, and when I was a senior in high school, my class had a party in a field, because it’s tradition. But we didn’t know that corn had just recently been planted there, and we trampled all over the budding plants while under the influence. We ended up doing like 5,000 dollars worth of damage! My grade pooled money to pay it all back because the owner of the farm wanted to take us to court!
24. A Bet Over Engine Oil Creating A Mad Man
There’s a story of a dude in my village who once drank a pint of oil from an engine pump for a bet. Apparently, it properly messed him up and ended up costing him a kidney. He now spends his days shouting at the number 10 bus as it drives through the village.
23. A One-Legged, Ladies’ Man Police Chief
Our police chief has one leg.
I’ll say this again… we have a one-legged police chief. He lost it in the line of duty… kind of… sort of.
…He shot himself in the leg while trying to impress a group of teenage girls while “twirling” his sidearm.
22. Big Trucks And A McDonalds Drive Thru
I went to college in a tiny town in upstate New York. During my four years, people’s trucks smashed into the overhang at the McDonald’s drive-thru on three separate occasions. It was a good 10-11 feet high.
When they had to close the drive-thru for repairs, it was front-page news and brought up in the town meeting.
21. Now Your Stork With It
We have a big wooden stork with a cloth nappy in its beak, that whenever someone has a baby it lives outside their house until the next person has a baby. My town has about 300 people living in it.
20. Protective Old Man Stuck In Defensive Hole (That He Dug)
The resident crazy guy owns a bunch of land near our river. I guess people would go back there and he didn’t like it. So he decided to dig a hole on the path to deter people from the area. In fact, I saw him walking down the road with a shovel. I didn’t think anything of it because like I said, he’s the resident crazy guy.
Then nobody saw him for a few days, and it turns out he dug himself so deep in the hole that he couldn’t get out. He called the cops and they came and pulled him out. He had a cell on him the whole time and waited two days to call for help.
19. A Violent Gang Of Bullying Turkeys
My hometown is plagued by a gang of wild turkeys who are violent as heck and fancy attacking people on bikes and tractors, as well as people in the cemetery.
At one point, 3 or 4 of them were camped out on a friend’s roof, and any time anyone would try and leave the house, they would attack.
It got to the point that the police (all 4 of them) had to make a statement about the “turkey attacks.”
18. An Armed Sleeping Bag And A Kidnapped Pygmy Goat
There was this guy everyone called “Cougar” who always wore nothing but animal skins. He was camping out in his backyard (in the middle of town) one night and accidentally shot a few of his toes off. He had a loaded weapon in his sleeping bag with him because he was afraid that coyotes would rip him apart.
There was also some guy who got arrested for stealing a pygmy goat. He got caught after some of his friends who had robbed a factory snitched on him.
17. A Tragic Execution
The last man hanged in my hometown was innocent. He had been fired from the railroad, and the guy who fired him ended up dead. The fired guy’s father admitted to ending the life of the boss on his deathbed.
Also, a fire in our hospital led to many modern fire codes being established.
More recently, Ben Folds wrote a song about us.
It’s a pretty boring town.
16. An Insanely Reckless Driver’s Ed Teacher
I had a teacher who was a pretty weird dude. He had like, 5 driving offenses. Once, he hit a stone Country Club sign, lost a wheel, drove 3 miles home, dragging someone’s mailbox. A cop followed his Antifreeze trail and knocked on the door. My teacher’s son answered, told the cop to wait there, and left to go get his dad, but the cop came in anyway so he was cleared of all charges. The funniest part of the whole story? He was the school’s Driver’s Ed teacher.
15. An Incredibly Dedicated Farmer
I live in a village with about 200 residents in rural North Yorkshire, England.
One of our local farmers is so dedicated to driving under the influence that he bought all the fields between his house and the local pub so he could drive home on private land as inebriated as he wants and not get arrested.
14. The Ultimate Gaelic Fantasy Football Player
There was this local nutter who was obsessed with Gaelic Football (Ireland’s national sport). He would walk around jumping and pretending that he was playing, and would talk about nothing else. The whole time he would just get upset. He would jump out in front of cars as a result.
Well, guess how he died? He was hit by a guy who was passing through the village. He went straight to the nearest business (rural Ireland, had to be a pub) and told the people there to call the ambulance, that a man jumped in front of his car. One of the lads just said.
“Ah, that’d be Dermott”
13. The Brilliant, Wacky Tale Of Wally
Here’s a story about Wally. I live in a town of about 1,000 people. There are only like 20 shops. Wally is the typical crazy, 40-something-year-old dude with a weird eye. I’ve heard that he:
Stopped taking his medication and subsequently burned down his caravan whilst doing the haka in front of it, because he thought there were taniwhas (maori word for river-monsters) coming out of the sink.
Tried to rob a store with a banana under his shirt. He was after lollies.
Repeatedly called my friend Christopher, after being told at least 5 times on separate occasions that his name was not, in fact, Christopher.
Man, I miss Wally.
12. A Legendary Petty Thief Named “Wessy”
We have an old man who has lived in my small city his whole life. Everyone knows him as “Wes the Cat” or “Wessy” and anyone who has lived in the city for any amount of time has seen him around. This guy drives his old bike all over town and goes into stores and asks for free stuff or just steals stuff, then bikes around trying to sell the stuff.
He’s in and out of jail (which around here is like living in a small dorm room with a community gym) and just got arrested for the 64th time on his 64th birthday. His best story is from a few years ago, he stole 4 cartons of stuff from a gas station and then used the pay phone outside to call a cab to be his getaway driver. The man is a legend.
11. Colorful, Jolly, Pink-Panther Attire
In my town, there used to be this guy who put on white and pink face makeup and dress head to toe in pink. Skirt, shirt, hat, leggings, legwarmers, shoes and umbrella. He’d walk the streets every single day walking in tiny 2-inch steps. Kids dress up as him for Halloween all the time. He doesn’t talk but will gladly take pictures with you. He stopped doing this now and no one knows what happened to him. So “Pink Guy” in Santa Cruz if you’re reading, come back we miss you!
10. A Cursed Town
All of the surrounding small country towns have missions/a large-ish indigenous population, my old town doesn’t – apparently, one of the wealthier landowners poisoned the waterhole back in the olden days to make them all go away. Some say the town is cursed as a result and it must be true with so much bad luck – much higher than average amount of young people having heart-attacks, heaps of car accidents, infertility…
9. A Scene Straight Out Of Mulan
I went to a religious college in the south in a small, small town. We approach finals week and our curfew is extended from 11 until 2 in the morning. That is IF you are going to be in the library. I think to myself, I hate this school and the curfew rule. So I sneak a friend and myself out and we go for a walk around the pond at about one in the morning.
We were completely alone. And then we hear the shouting. The yells of purely blissful male triumph. A whole floor of the male dorm rid themselves of their clothes and were charging for the lake.
We weren’t even allowed to dance on campus, so think, what in the world are two girls going to do with 20 something unclothed males running toward them. Dear god, the look on my friend’s face, was priceless. We hid in the shadows until they left. But man…
8. Candy Kids
A kid in my hometown took some sorta substance and broke into a grocery store. He was found the next morning in nothing but boots covered in chocolate and peanut butter.
7. A Really Small Town
I’m from Torrance, Ontario (Year round population approximately 50):
One homicide in the town’s history: A dog who stepped on his owner’s rifle and shot him in the chest.
Only claim to fame:
The queen decided to visit The prime minister decided to send the queen to visit every middle-of-nowhere place in the country. She went for a walk from the train station to the beach, and back. Everything in the town was then named after the Queen’s Walk.
6. Librarian Terrified Of “Devil’s People” Hair
I moved from a big city to a small town in the bible belt about 10 months ago. When I went to the local library to get my card, I asked an elderly librarian about the nonfiction section. When she looked up and saw me, her face drained and she backed up. She said she couldn’t help me because I am “of the devil’s people.”
She practically ran away from me. I asked another librarian what I might have done to offend her. He explained that she was deeply religious and believed that Judas had red hair so any other redhead was an inherently evil person in her book. I don’t go to the library when she works now.
5. Yearly Parade Interrupted By A Go-Kart Driver
When I was in ninth grade, our town’s annual parade got delayed because someone crashed their go kart during warm up and got a head injury. The marching band (all twenty of us) got to watch a helicopter land in the high school parking lot to pick him up.
It doesn’t take much to excite our little town.
4. A Friend You Haven’t Met
So, my family was visiting my uncle in ‘middle of nowhere’ Kansas at the family farm where my dad grew up. As luck would have it, I had to have my appendix removed while I was there. This sucks, because I was a boy of 11 and the big fun of visiting my uncle on his farm was the go karts, and motor bikes, and now all I could do was shoot the .22 because of the stitches.
So we need to go to the hardware store in this small town of 500 people to buy .22 rounds. I walk in with my dad and immediately go to the counter.
The guy looks at me and says, “How are you feeling?”.
I say, “Huh?”
He says, “You had your appendix removed.”
Now I have never met this man before, nor been in his store, and we’ve only been in there for barely 5 minutes.
The man laughed. “You’re wondering how I knew. I read in the newspaper that [name] was admitted in the hospital for an appendix being removed, and I thought they meant your grandfather. Then I remember hearing that your father was visiting and his son had the same name. Then you and your dad came in, I recognized him from when he used to come in, and I figured you were the one with the appendix removed.”
As we left, I asked my dad when he had last been in that store.
“30 years ago,” he said, “when I was 8 years old.”
2. The USS Enterprise Is Probably More Difficult To Drive Than A Tractor
Patrick Stewart owned a summer home on our island for a while (a lot of celebrities did, apparently), and he was sometimes seen around the village in the summertime just piddling around. We were a pretty relaxed bunch so no one ever swarmed him or anything, it’s probably why we kept getting celebrities there.
So anyway this is a big-time farming community, and we’ve got this place just outside of the village where you can rent large farming machinery. Patrick Stewart walks in and tries to rent a tractor to deal with his land, and the guy who owns the store doesn’t own a TV and has no idea who he is so he asks him for ID. Patrick apparently forgot his ID at home, and coyly says something about being known, but the store owner is really adamant.
He starts getting all mad with him (the owner) and finally yells, “I have no idea who you are! How am I going to know you can even drive a tractor?!” and this guy who had been watching the argument unfold from the back of the store yells out, “He can drive the USS Enterprise in SPACE I’m pretty sure he can handle the tractor!” At which point the owner promptly gave him the rental.
1. A Stubborn Turkey
We had a town fair with one of those kiddie roller coasters that’s about 10 feet long. A random turkey found its way onto the tracks and wouldn’t move off.