Thursday, February 5, 2009
I grew up around the Carlisle area, and remember there not being much for eateries in the area. Grocery store had chicken, there was a little taco place, an ice cream shop and the Casey's gas station. As I got older, a few other places came and went, and now there are finally a handful of decent joints to eat in. I find it odd that Pleasantville, which is just down the road, and now our regular haunt, has managed to maintain a dairy shop (which serves food as well as ice cream), the Checkerboard Pizza place, Smokey Row coffeehouse/cafe and a new Our Team Cafe sandwich type joint. And all of them have good food and most have been around for a while. PVille is a lot smaller than Carlisle was/is. It used to be everyone attributed it to being right on Highway 5, except 5 no longer swims through town; when the road was widened they bypassed PVille. And yet everyone of those places are regularly packed. Every week. I have come to the conclusion that the farm community is just that much more important than everyone likes to think. Farmers saturate the Pleasantville area, and they frequent all of those businesses regularly. Through their word of mouth is how I would guess a lot of those places got off the ground. They told family, who told more family and friends and on and on. Carlisle, on the other hand, is more of the urban/suburban type. They are trying to grow, and are succeeding, now. They look to be heading the way of Altoona, and trying to constantly add more businesses, though not a lot seems to be able to stick around. The residents are more the type to head into Des Moines if they want something since the bypass made it all that much closer. Now, I am, of course generalizing, but I think it is a valid observation. The Dairy Shop, for one example, closes it's doors from late fall to early spring. If you know anything about the farm seasons (and the owner has validated this is EXACTLY why she does things the way she does) she is open specifically when that farm crowd can eat there. The place is just down from the grain elevator. She has special hours in the fall, staying open only until all the local farmers have gotten all thier grain harvested and dropped. I am sure to some of you this is all just rambling-whatever, right? But in my world, where agriculture really is THAT important, it shows that without the farmer, whether big or small, conventional or organic, there would be such a different world. Not all states have as many rural small towns, and I would bet most of those small towns are kept alive solely on the agriculture that surrounds. The smaller ones closer to big towns tend to get sucked up and lose their identity. Yet those who are supported by the local farm keep theirs and though they remain small, remain strong. I love living in those small towns (okay, near those small towns...).