Moving to the North Georgia Mountains from big “H” town (Houston, Texas) back in 2004 was a cultural shock for me and my kids. The nearest Wal-mart was about 30 minutes away in Murphy, North Carolina, and the nearest mall is two hours away in Atlanta. Needless to say, my girls were very disappointed as shopping was done when we needed to make a trip south towards the big city.
Our little town here consist of two stop lights, a town square, and small hospital, some shops, grocery store and the like. We grow to about 30,000 residents in the summer when all the “snow-birds” come back from Florida, and in the fall, after Labor Day, we dwindle down to about 10,000 if we fudge.
When you go out to Monte Albans (the big mexican restaurant we have here) you are acquainted with about 20% of the patrons. When Kev and I are out, I always run into someone I know and we talk briefly about the kids and school and so forth. If you go down our road, most times everyone waves at ya, whether they know you or not, because that is just what they do up here in the mountains.
This place still operates on handshakes, and your word is binding, and God forbid you break it, because everyone will know about it. With that in mind, here is where I am at today when I write this blog.
For many years, most people up here did not lock their doors, much less their cars, because there really is not a reason too, up until a year or so back. When the economy headed south, so did the trust of this little small town. We had the first rash of crime since I moved up here. In 2009, as people who lived up here during the summer came back, they noticed some peculiar things. A polite thief, who kept the place clean, had taken stuff from the residences that were not noticed at first, but then discovered at a later time, to be gone. Needless to say, several months later the Towns County Sheriff’s Department found two builders who were using their work truck as a cover, and entering the house and taking things they could pawn.
Once they were caught, most of us breathed a sign of relief and went back to keeping the doors unlocked. We felt that our Sheriff did his duty quite well, and everything was back to normal. Then last fall, things started to turn.
I live out in the “country” from the small town, and our house is not easy to find unless you know where to go. Our little cove of neighbors lives up a mountain, and there are cows and horses, and we all know each other, etc. It was at this time, we noticed little things, small items which went missing, things we could not account for, and no one in the house could figure out where they might have gone. In comparing notes with our neighbors, there were some of us whose notes match.
Yesterday, Kev got home to find that one of two five gallon (full) gas containers was missing from our garage area, and the other one had been half-emptied. The feeling was one of disappointment and sadness. It was the first time, today, that I considered the fact we may need to buy ammo for the Winchester which collects dust in the corner of the closet. Whoever this person, or persons, were, they came in a span of about four hours from when I left for class to when I got back, in broad daylight, snooped around our house, and took things which did not belong to them. We are so trusting out here, that my neighbors, who do not know any different, would think it a visitor, not a thief, seeing a person in the driveway who was not either of us. I felt very ill last night.
Today I realized my small town trust is gone, and tomorrow we’re putting in dead-bolts.