Leave the Rural Ozarks Rural

If you took out the 4-way flashing stop-light and focused on the buildings, you might almost mistake this as Leslie (the town we live near now.) But this is actually Steelville, MO, another small town in the Ozarks I lived in/near and spent formative years as a kid running through the woods with my hillbilly pals.

Most of my friends lived in simple old cabins and houses that smelled of ash wood smoke, but one family lived in a shelter built into a mound of dirt with rough-cut timbers and army canvas-tent walls with dirt floors.

I remember the latter vividly as the father of the pair of kids I spent most my time with melted some lead in the "fireplace" of that structure and made me a civil-war soldier out of a mold that I bet was passed down for generations.

I had previously lived with my Great-Grandparents in a small farm-house and then lived in an old single-wide in the woods. I never knew that my friends and I were "poor" as that was just the life we knew.

When I saw Leslie it reminded me of so much of the places of my youth decades before and the simple life I lived before the one I ended up making for myself and my family. I was drawn to it in amazement and wonderment of how it could resist what some call "progress" for so long. I wanted the slow pace, the self sufficiency, the neighbor helping neighbor.

So when I express a lack of excitement for those coming in from their places of convenience wanting the same they left behind, it is because I see this special place as a treasure, not an "opportunity".

There are plenty of places out there where you can find convenient living, but how many places are left where you can still find people in touch with their history, their heritage, and a way of life that has been that way for generations?

These little towns are jewels to be cherished as they are; they don't need to be cut and polished. Leave the rural Ozarks rural!

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