I have always loved a small town. Big cities are nice places to visit, but, as the old saying goes, I wouldn't want to live there. And small Southern towns really pull at my heartstrings as I was born in one myself. Gary, Texas: population 200.
Literature is peopled with small-town characters, like Scout Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird fame. Harper Lee's description of the town, through the eyes of Scout, resonates with me. I can feel myself standing in the middle of the town square on a hot summer day.
Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square. Somehow, it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer's day; bony mules hitched to Hoover ...