Friday, May 26, 2006

Local Custom

You see things as you meander, even as you are waiting for a traffic light to change.

There's a street in town that's a non-street. It exists, if you go to an official (helps if it's rather old) city map; it's only half a block long (connecting to another very minor, ends-in-a-lane street). There is no street sign, the city does not take care of it and a local family uses it as a parking lot. I don't think the city even wants to go through the trouble to officially abandon it -- if the administration even knows it's there.

Local Custom. A necessary part of life in a world where we are so antsy about safety that it's a wonder our parents and grandparents ever lived long enough to sit in their rockers and tell us about the old days when they drove tractors into town at age 10.

-Local Custom in the small area where I grew up allowed me to sell beer to a state cop when I was 14 (and the legal age to do so was 21). He didn't care; he had just come off work and wanted his two bottles of Piel's Beer.

-Local Custom was that, if you were not 16 and old enough to work legally, you started in the very small Mom & Pop at 13 or 14 and went next door to the drugstore when you could get working papers.

-Local Custom was that the coffee, quick lunch, variety and gambling front across the street was visited regularly by the cops --to gamble-- and nobody asked any questions.

We need a little wiggle room in our dealings. It's what makes the Local Customs become part of the pattern of our cities and towns.


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