Wednesday, December 12, 2012


In line... NOT on-line.
With the holidays coming things are busier than usual in Lewistown.
It may be cold and snowy but that doesn't stop the socializing.
Here in rural Montana - face time is much preferred to facebook.
Our "hot spot" is the Post Office Lobby.

Lewistown Montana Post Office - 1931 - Courtesy Montana Memory Project - Lewistown Library

There's always a steady line of vehicles outside the Post Office.
A lot of that activity is people picking up mail from their P.O. Boxes.
Others stop by to personally put an out-going letter into the slot.
Somehow that just feels "safer".
Right now the Christmas Rush means the window line can be 6-8 people deep!
With that much traffic chances are you'll see somebody you know.

Post Office Line - Somewhere USA - 1968
So while buying
Christmas stamps
a lot of "visiting" occurs. And in that echoing marble chamber everyone hears the scoop!
"After that he was never the same".
"She died last April".
"Finally had enough and divorced him".

Our "social network" is the bank teller's window.

First National Bank Lewistown Montana - 1918 - Courtesy Montana Memory Project - Lewistown Library

In Lewistown bank tellers know your name BEFORE you hand them a deposit slip. Besides earning interest you also get a smile, cookie, or cup of coffee. You can even hit the drive in and visit via microphone. No matter where you do business the "girls" behind the counter will make you feel welcome - even your pooch will get a treat!

Don't worry - at the Bank everything is kept confidential.  Sure the staff may prattle on about weather, crop prices, or Christmas shopping. But bring up the subject of somebody else's financial resources and they immediately turn into sealed tombs of confidentiality. Here's how that goes - they smile - look you right in the eye - and shift the conversation back to something inconsequential.

There's nothing so satisfying as interacting with a person rather than an ATM.
Somehow the little things in a small town make a big difference.

Our most "heavily trafficked site" is the grocery store.

Buttrey Foods Lewistown Montana - 1950s - Courtesy Montana Memory Project - Lewistown Library

We only have one grocery store in town and IT'S BUSY.
It's so crowded that I call Albertsons parking lot the Bumper Car Derby.
This is the wild west so NOBODY parks in actual spaces.
Maybe that's because the snow, ice, and mud make it hard to see the lines.
I prefer to think that the pioneer spirit lives on in all grocery shoppers!

Again, let me reinforce that ONE major grocery store
services all of Fergus County which covers 4,350 square miles.

Courtesy of
Which means -
you can't go down an aisle without meeting somebody you know.
That means -
an average visit duration can double due to encounters.
All of which means -
you need plenty of time and patience whenever you shop for groceries.
And don't try to sneak
in early or late - many others
use the same tactic.

In Lewistown "networking" means talking... face-to-face.

Don't get me wrong.
Everyone leverages technology to interact with the world beyond town.
But when it comes to talking to your neighbors and friends -
We don't need the internet, gadgets, clouds, gimmicks, or wi-fi.
Good old fashioned person to person interaction still works the best.

Imagine... people talking not texting... how revolutionary!