Tag Archives: Jayber Crow

Small Town Life

Well I was born in a small town
And I live in a small town
Prob’ly die in a small town
Oh, those small – communities

I don’t know if Waupun is considered a small town now that we have a Taco Bell, not to mention a McDonalds, a Subway and a Culvers (and three prisons).  Probably not.  But maybe we’re close, and I like to imagine at least that I live in a relatively small community.  You see, unlike John Mellancamp, I was not born in a small town, but as the saying goes, I got to one as soon as possible.

stownMellancamp’s song is on my mind as I think about Wendell Berry’s book, Jayber Crow, which I finished just yesterday.  Jayber is the nickname of the first person character of the book, a bachelor barber named Jonah, who was orphaned as a young boy and given the name “J” by his caregivers at a local orphanage.  J becomes “Jaybird” and gets shortened to “Jayber”, as life has it.  The story was…delightful…and all about life in a small town named Port William. This was my first read by Wendell Berry, but as I understand it, most all of his books take place in Port William, Kentucky, and the characters overlap throughout.

Educated in a small town
Taught to fear Jesus in a small town
Used to daydream in that small town
Another born romantic that’s me

No I cannot forget where it is that I come from
I cannot forget the people who love me
Yeah, I can be myself here in this small town
And people let me be just what I want to be

I suppose that Jayber the barber could have written Mellencamp’s song, for he certainly finds some of the heretofore mentioned blessings from the throne of the barber’s chair on Main Street.  I myself have found such bounties, and if my children and my children’s children do as well some day, all the better.

That said, I have to admit that some days I feel the romance of the big city, and beyond romance, the need of the multitudes, the cry of the crowds.  I know demographers say that small town life is slowly disappearing, that the world is going to the cities.  But for me…for now, as they say, “It’s a nice place to visit…”

Well I was born in a small town
And I can breathe in a small town
Gonna die in a small town
Ah, that’s prob’ly where they’ll bury me

– John Mellencamp, Small Town


Posted by on July 31, 2013 in Uncategorized


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