For many years now (ok- more like decades) I have chosen Hwy 50 as my preferred route from Colorado to California. Mostly for the simple joy of the open road and partly because each time my fingers are crossed for some more wonderful Scipio sights.
The very first time I came around the curve from the west, right smack in the middle, crossing the road was an old buckboard wagon dressed up in patriotic finery. Bunting and bedecked horses, kids piled in the back also decked out. As it turns out I was just in time for 4th of July- country style.
Of course I stopped and stayed a bit! I even have the photos somewhere in my stash.. (that was back when everyone had a little 110 camera) And, OH! The welcome I received… Everyone was so nice and inviting.
That was the first time I seriously thought about just staying. Forever. There had been a
run down, closed up café for sale in the middle of town, and I just happened to have skill and youth at the time. Alas- life pulled me in another direction.
That first time sealed the deal for me… Hwy 50 it would be.
After dark on another trip, coming around the bend from the east, nearly every house was lit up in white lights. It was so beautiful! So quaint. So very Norman Rockwell-esque.
On other trips I have seen everything from herds of elk to a full cowboy roundup right outside of town… around the bend
In the ensuing years, Scipio has not grown much- in fact, back in it’s heyday Scipio was still a community under 600 ppl. But there is a ‘new’ gas station on the corner where it meets the interstate and the café has been dolled up and re-opened.
There has never been a time when I stopped, that people weren’t willing to chat. I love that. Just something about the feel of the town draws me in. I delight in the past mixed with the future, the old Vico Motor Oil sign faded on the sides of buildings, the majesty of the elk at watering time…..
I came through in early October with my mother-in-law. She has never traveled across
country on back roads and it was a joy to show her how Rural America looks .Of course we stopped in Scipio and took photos with what I am sure are the most photographed gas pumps in Utah! Our bad luck though, the café was closed. But there
is a older home with a couple acres right on the bend for sale…As always, I see the possibilities…
Sometimes I still think I should have…
Scipio never fails to delight- next time you’re headed that-a-way, make it a point to go through.
Scipio is also very easily a Kate’s 8 town.
*Katy is a motivational speaker and rural advocate at Tait and Kate helping small towns and businesses grow and thrive.
Every community, no matter its size has at least eight items it can build on.
Aladdin, Wyoming is a favorite stop on our cutoff from Belle Fourche, SD to Sundance, Wyoming whenever we’re headed to Colorado. This micro-sized community packs a punch with everything from local foods and wine, cowboys and cattle, unique shopping and tourism.
Aladdin easily covers all eight assets- Arts/Culture, Architecture, Cuisine, Customs, History, Geography, People and Commerce
“Everything fits into one of these categories. Every town, even ghost towns, have a story to tell about each one.”- Kansas Sampler Foundation
Here’s my take –
Geography – Aladdin is just to the east of the Bear Lodge Mountains and has covered plateaus and pine and oak covered coulees and draws. Stunning vistas no matter which direction a person looks. Aladdin also had an abundant coal seam, which was mined and sent to smelters near Deadwood. *Bonus- there is an average of 226 sunny days a year!
Arts/Culture – Brand new this year is the inaugural Aladdin Days Country Music and Food Festival on June 16th! (I can hardly wait, since it coincides perfectly with my next trip down!!) In the meantime, when visiting the mercantile there is local artwork – paintings, hand decorated skulls, notecards, etc- available and books from Wyoming authors. Right across from the store is the Centennial Park- with picnic benches and toys for everyone to enjoy.
Architecture– The Aladdin Mercantile store was built in 1896 and is a prime example of early stores. This mercantile has been in continuous operation the entire time! The false front was a common feature during this time period. Just a hop and a skip to the east of town is the Aladdin Tipple. Another prime example of early engineering and one of the last wooden tipples.
Cuisine– Right next door to the mercantile is Cindy-B’s café and hotel. It doesn’t look like much from outside, but don’t let that fool you. The food is good, portions pretty generous and good prices. Not to mention you can sit on the patio and soak up the sun while you have morning coffee!
Inside the mercantile you will find sandwiches, snacks and a small bar. Local whiskeys and wines too! (Chris Ledoux, anybody???)
Customs– Aladdin is in the heart of “Cowboy Country” and that means a certain set of rural values abound. A mans word is his bond and handshake still means something. Men will always treat women like ladies and friendliness is the order of the day.
History– (I could go on and on about local history, but I’ll keep it short!) Aladdin was founded in the late 1800s on coal and logging. The Mercantile was opened in 1896. The coal mined in Aladdin was loaded onto rail cars for use by gold smelters in Lead and Deadwood. In 1874 Colonel Custer was in the Aladdin area during his Black Hills expedition. Population peaked at 200 +/- during it’s coal mining years, but today hovers around 15.
People– The people of Aladdin are a hearty bunch. Deeply committed to the land, their faith, community and country. Always friendly and ready to help in a pinch. Many nearby residents are descendants of local settlers. Want to know how the West really was?? Ask a local. They are usually very happy to share personal stories and local lore.
Visitors to Aladdin are equally as jolly. It’s a popular stop on the way to Devils Tower, Sturgis and for hunters and fishermen.
Commerce– The Aladdin Mercantile has it ALL- Literally. It may be a one-man-band so to speak, but Wow! It carries artwork, clothing, antiques, foods and beverages, jewelry, gifts- truly, everything. And make sure to send home a postcard from the little post office tucked inside and sit a spell on the porch.
The next time you’re road-tripping, make it a point to get off the road at Aladdin and enjoy the sights. You won’t be disappointed!
“Kate’s 8” are a way of showcasing small towns and rural communities. When looking at your own town, get creative and see how many ways you can fit what you have into these categories and get creative with your marketing!
*Katy is part of the dynamic speaking duo Tait and Kate- helping small towns and rural communities grow and thrive.
“Rural Values” – One of the top 10 reasons why people choose to live in a small town.
Normally, I would agree with that statement.
After yesterday, I am afraid I have amend that to say “everywhere but here”
This story involves “small town” mentality and a complete and utter breech of financial privacy.
The local Cenex Station has long been known for it’s lack of customer service- But this really takes the cake.
You see, I told the kiddo-o to swing by and ask to have propane delivered to a house he had rented and put on our tab. – By and far, not an unusual occurrence. Plenty of families do that out here. “P” said- “Have your mom call and OK it”
Fine- I called.
The first words of P’s mouth were “Well- your son owes us XYZ and he has to pay it”
WOW! WOW! WOWSIE!!!!!
WHAT???? You are discussing a grown man’s credit with someone one the telephone you don’t know?????? I could have been anybody calling!!! And then she implied (without actually coming right out and saying so) that because she heard we had moved (WE haven’t) that we may not be good for it.
Like that makes a fig of difference. Anyway- I OK’d the transaction.
An hour later, “P” calls back and tells me that because kidd-o has an outstanding balance, she refuses to let them deliver propane.
WHAT The heck!!! It’s MY MONEY.
And “P” says that because of kidd-o, she will not allow a delivery to that address no matter who is living there.
For the record- the house is EMPTY and we are fulfilling a promise we (not kidd-o) made to the owner 6 months ago to fill when the lease was up.
After some haggling and name dropping and I got her to do it.
And then I stewed. Since I know I have a hair-trigger temper at times, I decided waiting until morning to go ‘discuss’ the incident with “P’ was the best choice.
I show up and “P” was as condescending as they come. Continually saying that “my son” drug me into this with his carelessness…. blah, blah.
I told her that it was no sweat of my back to have McClusky or Washburn fulfill all of our bulk fuel, propane and oil needs in the future.
I cheerfully told “P” that she has opened herself and Cenex to a lawsuit for flagrant violation of privacy by discussing an adults credit with me- and in front of her co-workers to boot. To which he replied “you’re his mother” and “it’s a small town”
That should ZERO bearing. He is an adult. Cenex willfully entered into a credit arrangement with him. Not me. Not anyone else.
That my friends was THE LAST STRAW
I am DONE keeping my yap shut because Hubb’s was born and raised here.
If they will discuss his financials on the phone and in public without a care, who else are they blabbing about??? Because you can bet your rump they are.
**Update** A complaint has been files with the ND State Attorney and to add insult to injury- after only OK’ing X amount of fuel to be delivered… they delivered MORE…. What the Heck!???
Many states have raised the minimum wage today. 18 in fact. Several of them to over $10 an hour. Read about it here
Now don’t get me wrong- I don’t begrudge anybody a chance to make a decent living. I would have loved to be on the receiving end as a worker and as an employer would have been ecstatic to be able to pay my employees more.
But I do believe that these states did not really try to take their rural communities into account. In particular isolated rural communities.And if they did, it was only to spare a second to think to themselves ‘they don’t have enough people to matter’..
I’ve lived in several incredibly tiny rural communities in a couple of the states listed. We owned a business in one. A little town of a hundred people, 135 miles from the city (700K ppl), and 45 miles to the nearest ‘urban’ center (3500ppl) . Our nearest communities had 27 and 300 people respectively. Those numbers have not fluctuated all that much in the years since we left.
Many rural businesses cannot sustain a fair sized increase in minimum wage. -Not even if it’s over a number of years.
I know many will say “Oh- What’s a buck or two?” – A couple dollars multiplied by 30 -40 hours a week adds up. On top of that the employer will now pay a higher unemployment tax, FICA and workmans comp. – all of which can hinder the ability to pay an employee a higher wage.
Those same dollars can also spell the difference between whether that rural community continues have a hardware store, market, café etc…
Here are some scenarios– Bobs Hardware is a busy little place servicing several tiny communities. Bob needs help.- he hires Joe to come work and pays him the elevated wage. Joe is happy. For a time. -You see, Bob has to either sell more or cut Joes hours to afford the wage.
Bob can’t really sell any more than he already is because he doesn’t have the same traffic an urban or city business attracts. Bob is 145 miles from people. His customers are the farmers, ranchers and families in his area. And they can only buy so much. So Bob cuts Joes hours.
Or.… Let’s say Bobs Hardware already has several employees. The minimum wage goes up. Bob has to choose. Does he cut everyone’s hours? Or does he let two go and keep Joe? And if he keeps Joe, is Joe going to up and quit because Bob expects him to work harder for the new wage? Even if he pays a little more than the ‘new wage’- Joe may eventually build up resentment of having to do more work.
Or… Bobs Hardware employs Joe. The wages go up. Bob can no longer afford to have even one employee. So Bob, who’s already run his rural business for decades let’s Joe go. Bob can no longer do all the work himself and cuts his business hours which in turn loses some revenue. Eventually Bob just throws in the towel and closes leaving communities without their only hardware store AND an empty/shuttered building on Main Street. That in turn leads to lower property values for the entire community. And potentially lost revenue for the gas station, since the local farmer filled fuel on his way home from Bobs Hardware and grabbed a coffee at the cafe. In the meantime, Joe was let go and job opportunities in a town of a couple hundred are slim. Joe has moved to the city for work taking what disposable income he had with him, and quite possibly his kids out of school and money out of the donation plate at church that helped fund local causes or 4-h etc.
Or… Bob raises his prices significantly in an effort to afford his wage increase and in the process actually loses business. – Many rural folk will save ‘it’ for a trip ‘to town’ when ‘it’ is no longer cost effective to buy locally. At the same time, when those folks go to town they will spend the entire day and do ALL their shopping and stop at the café to boot, bypassing their own community all together.
I have witnesses every one of these scenarios over the years.
**99% of small business owners in rural communities WANT to pay their employees better. They genuinely love their towns and the people within and want them to survive and thrive.
**A huge number of those same employers work tremendous amounts of hours themselves “FOR FREE” so they CAN employ someone from the area. (we did)
**Sometimes in lieu of money they find other creative compensation. We did. If we hadn’t we wouldn’t have been able to be open enough hours to even pay ourselves a meager living.
So while I don’t necessarily think the new wages are bad, I do think they will force some hard decisions in rural communities.
In equal numbers, some businesses will find a way and some will not. Some will close. Some will hang on- for a while, maybe longer. Some will thrive.
Next time we’ll talk about some of the creative ways we’ve seen businesses in tiny communities thrive.
Katy is a rural and small town consultant with Tait and Kate Consulting ~Helping rural communities grow and thrive~
Thanksgiving through Christmas… a time of hi-jinks in some households… Oh wait! That’s MY house!
It all started waaaaaaay back in grade school.
My brother– who is older and wiser- was in the 3rd grade I was in 1st- Back then teachers asked kids what they were doing for whatever holiday it was (Easter, St Patty , Thanksgiving…) This particular episode it just happened to be Thanksgiving. His teacher asked the kids to find out what they were having for dinner… all afternoon Stace pestered my mom. Finally she said “Damnit! We’re having hot-dogs, OK???” – Which definitely was OK, since he loved hot-dogs. The next day at school the teacher goes around the room… one family is having turkey, another ham, one a roast…. and then she gets to my brother… and he cheerfully states “We are having Hot-dogs” … and she goes on. Not another word was said.
On Thanksgiving, we are all seated around the table, ready to feast and the doorbell rings- My mother answers the door and behold! The PTA is standing there with a Turkey and ALL the trimmings for the poor family that has to have hot-dogs. To say that my mother was a trifle embarrassed is an understatement.
And if you knew my mom, being embarrassed was the worst thing that could happen to her. She would have rathered the house burnt to the ground with everything in it, than have one of us shame her.
My dad hates (with a capital H) chocolate covered cherries. A fact I didn’t know until I was 20! When I was but a tot, my mom thought it would be funny to tell me that Daddy looooooooved chocolate covered cherries. She also knew that once I latched onto an idea- I would never let it go. For nearly 20 years I ritualistically bought my dad the dreaded cherries every single Christmas. And he would always dutifully open them and make a great production of eating one , and then putting them away. I had no idea he absolutely could not stand the until he told me in my 20’s!
Way to go mom! The gift that kept on giving….
My boyz- One was brains, one was brawn. Their playroom was in the basement. We had a storage place under the stairs- one year we hid all their Christmas presents in there. If the Brawn hadn’t acted guilty one day we would never have known they had been playing those presents for nearly a month! The Brain had found the presents and taken them all out of their boxes and had the Brawn flatten the boxes and the lift the toy chest on top of them. We took them away and told them ‘NO DAMN CHRISTMAS FOR YOU’ and made them watch from their room while we opened ours.. and then they got to come have their’s back!
The following year we threatened them with certain shortening of life if they pulled that stunt again…. We found a large box and wrapped it in the shiniest paper we could find and wrote The Brains name on it really big…. just for fun… ON Christmas Eve we told them if they even stepped one toe out their doors before we got up… it would be all over.
Not long after midnight we heard the pitter-pat of little feet… and waited.. a few minutes later we heard a loud WOMP! WOMP! WOMP! Hubby had put one tiny toy in that huge box and weighted it with rocks and wire so if it touched it would flip over. Startled, the Brain yelled “That’s NOT funny”!! and then laughed all the way back down the hall.
And yes there are plenty more tales!
Merry Christmas ya’all!
This mother wept today.. Tears of frustration. This is the first time I have not
been able to find some crazy solution and save the day.
When hubby got hurt this spring we needed help. On the farm and in the business. We asked our youngest to take a leap of faith and throw his lot in with ours- we offered a fair wage in return for an honest days work and cattle to boot, and if he worked hard, the prospect of taking over our generally very lucrative business.
Fast forward to just weeks before Christmas, and hubb’s drops the bomb on me that he’s going to have to lay the kidd-o off. – All winter, it looks like.- For whatever reason, business is slow in our industry right now. All over.
Guess who gets to break the news to him tomorrow??
No matter how I run numbers, there is simply no way to pay for both households.
My heart aches. We asked him to give up city life and move to the country and a goo
d job to boot, to come to our rescue. And now we’re going to throw him under the bus.
I have never NOT found a way to come through for the kids. And trust me- there’s been some insurmountable odds over the years and I always found a way to come up smelling roses. So- tears of hurt, tears of rage and tears of fear.
Hurt because I have to be the bad guy, rage because I can’t see a way out and fear because I fear he won’t help when business picks back up- and a bigger fear that he’ll be so damn mad he doesn’t talk to us again. Not that I wouldn’t blame him.
So- now here I am at midnight… tossing out my resume to nearly anywhere…. Maybe if I can land a town job, that will take the edge off…
This mother’s tears- tears he will never know.
PS…. I now know exactly how my dad felt.
Trunk or Treat is really catching on. This is where folks line their cars up, decorate the trunks and the little people walk around on Halloween getting their candy in one place. One street. One part of one street.
Now I’m not against the concept. I see it’s merits is places like San Francisco, New York City and the like, where many folks may live in high rises or such. I can also see how it makes parents feel safer if they live in a ‘bad part of town’. Or the ease of just stopping in the parking lot at your kids school. And very micro towns- this may be a good way for everyone to get together in the evening.
But mostly I see it as the nail on the coffin, so to speak, for neighborhoods.
I just caught a local interview on the news and the young mother said she is glad it is in the school parking lot because she “recognizes other parents and children”. To me that implies that while she recognizes them, she doesn’t know them. It also implies that there is no value to her in knowing the neighbors on any level.
I am old enough to remember when everyone went door to door. Parents visited with each other on sidewalks as we ran up to “trick or treat”- Parents also made it a point to introduce themselves any new or unknown neighbors, as well as inviting them to upcoming neighborhood events and shindigs.
My own kids went house to house. We went back and forth between country and city living- so some years we drove the kids into ‘town’ (we were 3 miles from the nearest neighbor and 16 to town) so they could go with their school chums… all of a hundred folks lived ‘in town’.
Last year I was giving a talk on community involvement in a local small town, right before Halloween. The City Auditor stated she was taking her children the next town over for trunk or treat. Why? Because there were new neighbors on the corner she didn’t know and was afraid to let her kids go up by themselves. So- my first question back was WHY haven’t you already introduced yourself? followed by Why not go up with them??? She chose to take her children 12 miles away to the town with under a hundred people from her own with nearly 500- It kinda baffles me.
Way to go- making your new community member feel unwelcome right out of the gate.
In a rural or small town setting Trunk or Treat also takes away from the joy of the home bound who have prepared for days for little ghosts and goblins and princesses and unicorns to come to their door. Many of the older folks know every family around, whose kids have allergies, whose like nut rolls and whose love candy corn and make individual bags for them. I know Mildred (in her 90s) would have been desolate if the kids hadn’t made an appearance- She’d been known for decades in the neighborhood.
Imagine how you would feel if you went all out, quite possibly hoarding bits of your fixed income so you could have treats for the kiddies, to have no one show up. That would probably be disheartening. And what of the new family? Don’t you think that attitude by your new town would keep person or family from participating in other ‘community’ things during the year?
Trick or Treating is almost a rite of passage. It is tradition. It is neighbors being neighborly. – (And trying to out do each other!)
It is community.
It’s OK to do both- To Trunk or Treat at a location, but try to be neighborly too. You don’t have to cover blocks… but it would be nice to knock on your neighbors door and say “Trick or Treat” or “Welcome to the neighborhood”
Once upon a time in a far off land….
I was young once. And cute. But not heartless- until one fateful day….
Way back when, there was a boy I went to school with, Dave Etchison- a nice enough boy, as boys went back then. He pursued me relentlessly. I still have no idea what the fascination was. And I tried everything to get him away from me….Out right “NO” didn’t work, I sicced my brother on him, I dated his brother, I told my friends to tell him Buzz Off… nothing was working!
This young man would walk from his place to our before school trying to catch me before I left so we could walk together… Now get this… he lived over a mile from the school one direction and we lived a mile from it the other direction… I give him props for dedication to the cause!
One day, as I was trying to sneak out the side door (I saw him waiting out front) , he busted me…. and he gave me a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a Barry Manilow 45 ~ “I can’t smile without you”
I don’t know what came over me… But I threw his record on the ground and stomped it into a million pieces and stormed off to school.
I think he got the message. He didn’t talk to me for a couple years!
But fast forward a couple years post graduation… a mutual friend was on his way to pick me up “my friend is driving” .. Guess who the friend was??? And guess what friend tried to play with my knee like it was the stick shift???
Yeah- that’s right… I cheerfully reminded him of The Incident
It’s no secret- we like bread. Any kind of breads- Sourdough, pumpernickel, garlic-y cheesy breads, bruschetta …. and that all around staple- biscuits.
They go so easily with every meal…
But alas- I live a fair distance to the market. So in this recipe you will learn how to make ‘fake’ or substitute buttermilk and a great cheaters trick so you don’t have to cut in the butter…
Super simple ingredients too!
2 1/2 C flour 2 T baking Powder 1 Tsp sugar 8 T butter (yes son, you can sub margerine) 1 C milk 1 T lemon juice (trust me) 1/2 tsp salt(optional)
mix the milk and lemon juice together and put in the freezer for about 7-10 min… while it’s chilling, melt the butter and let cool. In the meantime mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and make an indent (well) in the center.
Here comes some magic!– Add the butter to the chilled milk and watch it make little butter balls/slush. Pour into dry and stir until just mixed. Turn out and roll or pat –gently-(I prefer pat) to about 1 inch-ish. and fold and pat..repeat like 6 times.
Cut with a cutter or glass. *tip* Do NOT twist the cutter/cup it makes the edges ‘crimp’ and your biscuits won’t rise well.
Bake at 425 10 min -they’ll be golden on top- take out and brush with some melted butter.
Gobble up. Eat with jam, make biscuits and gravy, dunk in gravy, make sandwiches…..
*Tips for the boy-o-s
Need buttermilk in a jiff??? 1 Tablespoon ( a generous soup spoon will do) lemon juice per cup of milk. Let stand 5 min and use.
No rolling pin? No problem- beer/wine bottles, be creative, just keep an equal pressure when rolling.
Yes- you can sub Margarine in most of moms recipes, though it alters the taste and these biscuits won’t be quite as fluffy.