“Welcome to the middle of nowhere.”This is often the exact reaction many people have when they are traveling through a remote small town.
They look left, then they look right and see a couple of houses, but not much else. “Do people actually live here?” is the common question asked among visitors.
The truth is people do live in these small towns and most will defend their birthplace until they are blue in the face.
This is the case with Rachel Skinner, a senior radio-TV-film major, whose hometown is Lawn, Texas.
Now, chances are you have never even heard of Lawn, which is to be expected, Skinner said.
“It’s a big surprise when someone recognizes it,” she said. “So I say I’m from Abilene, aka Lawn.”
Skinner said she’s proud to be from the middle of nowhere even though ‘going to town’ only meant heading north to the mall or Wal-Mart 30 miles up the road.
Despite the immense amount of pride she has for her hometown, Skinner wasn’t always fond of rural life in Lawn.
“We moved from a cul-de-sac full of kids two miles east of Lawn when I entered the sixth grade,” Skinner said. “My closest neighbor was a mile away.”
Lawn, like any other small town, has quirks that make the town that much more special to its residents.
“The town used to have a different location, but when the railroad came through, the town moved with it,” Skinner said.
With only 353 people in the entire town, and the closet city 30 miles away, you might be wondering what the people of Lawn do for fun. Skinner said the football games are a huge draw for most Lawn citizens, even if they did have to drive 15 miles up the road to the closest high school in the town of Tuscola.
“Anyone who was anyone was there,” she said. “When there wasn’t a football game going on, most people would just grab a cigarette, a friend and walk up and down the streets of the town looking for trouble or causing it.”
Another favorite pastime for the people of Lawn would be climbing up the town’s old water tower.
“Who knows how many people have climbed that thing,” Skinner said.
So, in a town like Lawn, where there are less than 400 people, no stores, no schools and very little entertainment and recreation, you would think people would be itching to leave. Skinner says that’s not the case.
“Actually, a lot of people do stay there,” Skinner said. “They marry their high school sweethearts who they probably already have one or even two kids with before graduation. “
It is not unheard of to hear from people who graduated from high school in a class of a thousand, but as you guessed, Lawn is a different story.
“Everyone knew everything about everybody else, and I kind of liked it like that,” Skinner said. “I hear tales of people graduating with a thousand other people, and I just react with horror.”
That would seem unbelievable when your graduating class has only 64 people, and that was down 19 students from the year before, Skinner said.
Skinner is not optimistic that Lawn will ever become a town anyone will know due to the community’s conservative nature.
“Nothing new ever has or ever will come to Lawn,” Skinner said. “Everyone there is very set in their ways from the ‘good ol’ days’.”
When asked to finish the phrase, “My town is so small that…” Skinner said the only Internet available to the people of Lawn was dial-up.
Growing up in a small town may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and some may even shutter at the notion of having to live in a town like Lawn, but to Rachel Skinner, home is where the heart is, and her heart is in Lawn.