Saturday, February 20, 2016

Small Town, USA (A Snapshot) & Book Giveaway!

This month I offer an essay as my historical post. It's a tribute to growing up in a small town within the shadow of Manhattan. Life was a world away from the Manhattan rush, but nevertheless, hard lessons  and the inescapable need for salvation due to the human condition permeates every inch of this globe, including, even, the smallest town. 

Note: Don't miss your chance to enter the book giveaway by leaving a comment after this post!

by Linore Rose Burkard

     Children miss a lot, but one thing did not escape me in my youth: My mother despised our town.
My large family lived in a big, white house on a noisy bus route road, adjacent to a fire engine station and a corner tavern. From the creaky third-floor fire escape overlooking our backyard, we could see the misty outline of Manhattan, cloud-encased and as far away, it seemed, as the Emerald City of Oz. It was my mother's dream, but not mine. To her, it held the tantalizing illusion of real life, as if little College Point where we lived was just a tawdry deception.
     And yet, we lived in New Yawk! Seven and a half short miles from the Empire State Building as the crow flies; a little outcropping on the other side of the East River, with not a single bridge connecting us to anywhere. The Long Island Sound lapped its shores around the bigger part of our town, adding to the relative seclusion despite the bustling metropolis within her sight. After a heavy rain, two of the three roads that led to the rest of the world flooded. Access was precarious, so New York City notwithstanding, College Point was small.
     (Newer roads have changed that, now. But back then we were a little world unto ourselves.)
The "College" was long gone; there were no theaters, no museums, no culture, according to my mother. Worse, old-timers had idiosyncratic speech; oil was "url," and "ain't" was commonplace.
     "Don't talk like that!" my mother would scold. "That's College Point talk." She was convinced her children would grow up to be backward ignoramuses.

     Meanwhile, I discovered that life was full and I forgot the town was small. I had scads of friends in school with whom I biked, swam, jumped rope, and played hand-ball. Playing tag, exploring the green oasis at the edge of town--our beloved Chisolm's Park--as well as biking and Little League Softball filled my days. Some weekends we boated on the Sound, and I dug for clams on sandbanks and got sun-burned. I loved school. I loved books. All of us at home owed fines for overdue library books constantly. (I vowed to read every book on the shelves of the children's section, and discovered the Little House books as a result. I also discovered some real sleepers and gave up that particular reading ambition.) I sketched and wrote stories. Who needed New York City?

The magnificent altar as it was. St. Fidelis Catholic Church
College Point, N.Y.

     Eventually I traded my youthful passions for an interest in boys, and got that first kiss, as well as heartache. At St. Fidelis's each Sunday I admired the alcoved Gothic ceiling and its beautiful painted frescoes of Italianesque saints and angels: culture in College Point! Though my attendance dropped off with adolescence, I loved every inch of that church, from the splendid, graceful arches to the outdoor grotto and Pieta, where the mournful expression on the Virgin's sculptured face troubled my soul.  
     I didn't understand, then, why the Mother of God was sad. 

   My own mother couldn't fathom that bigness could have nothing to do with size.
     Our town was big enough to grow up in. Big enough, too, to slap you in the face with sin. We surely needed something, but it wasn't the Emerald City.

     My mother and I both missed that what we needed was there. What we most needed--what we all most need--was there, all along, just as in the Virgin's eyes. An understanding. An understanding of sin, but even more of Christ, and the price he paid for our redemption.
     I have come to understand it is knowing this--the gospel--that makes life big. And that not knowing is what makes life anywhere the biggest small existence there can be.
copyright 2015 Linore Rose Burkard

Did you grow up in a small town? And did you find it big enough to grow up in? I'll read each comment and one will win a free kindle copy of my latest release PULSE.  (Drawing ends on 2/27/16).  
  Linore Rose Burkard is best known for historical romance novels with Harvest House Publishers, and now writes YA/Suspense as L.R.Burkard. Linore teaches workshops for writers with Greater Harvest Workshops in Ohio, is a mother of five, and still homeschools her youngest daughter—preferably with coffee in one hand and an iPad in the other. Keep up with Linore by subscribing at either of her websites. 


  1. I grew up in a very small town and for me, it was the best! Everyone knew everyone and life was slow and simple. Being thirty minutes from Dallas wasn't a bad deal either. Shopping and entertainment took place there but the heart of growing up was in that small town.

  2. Yes, familiar faces...a nice fringe benefit of smaller places. :) Thanks, Kate.

  3. Nope did not grow up in a small town.

  4. I spent some time growing up in small towns as a kid. Mostly we lived near very large towns. When I finally got into high school we moved to a small town with only 1 blinking light and main street was still brick. Since then that town has grown to well over 100,000 people. My old high school building has become an elementary school. There are 2 5A high schools in town.

  5. I grew up in a small town, but our family had moved into town. My dad was a pastor, so we moved when he was hired by the church and we stayed as long as they were happy with him. When I last drove through the town, it had not grown very much and the world looked much the same.

    1. Hi Betti, This is my 2nd attempt to contact you. You've won an ebook copy of my novel, PULSE! Please reply with your email address so I can send it to you (or your kindle email address). Thanks!

  6. Hi Jan, 1 blinking light...definitely qualifies! And Betti, my old town has changed enormously and now looks much like other areas of Queens. The way most things change, it's something that your old town is the same!

  7. I grew up in a small town of about 600 people along the Texas Gulf Coast. Lots of traffic during summer as you can imagine....

  8. I grew up in the very small town of Willows, CA. If you stood at one end and looked down the street, you could see the other end. LOL Not kidding. For the most part, it was big enough for me. But, it was boring, so when I had the opportunity to move away, I did. I am happy here in Redding, CA...for the most part.
    No need to enter me in the drawing. As you know I already have the book and LOVED it. Hugs my friend.

  9. I grew up in a very small town and I have never lived anywhere that was fartherthan 15 miles away from that town. I have never regretted living here and I hope I will never have to leave it. My passion for reading introduced me to the customs of other countries and through these books, I was given a glimpse of life in large cities. I often tell my Sunday School classes that your surroundings may contribute to your happiness but they add nothing to the joy you feel. That is determined by what you feel inside and the relationship you have with God. Thank you for sharing this wonderful essay!

  10. Thank you all for your comments. BETTI, you are the winner of the ebook copy of PULSE. (Winner drawn using send me your email address so I can get your Kindle copy out to you. Hope you enjoy it!

  11. I was born and raised in college point also. Still here at age 52. I loved growing up here, everyone knew everyone and you always felt safe. I went to St.Fidelis and St Agnes and still have friends from my childhood to this day. Of course the town has changed greatly in the last 10-15 years. Wish it could be the great little town it once was un known to others.

  12. I was born and raised in college point, still here at age 52. I went to St.Fidelis Fidelis and St Agnes. I still have friends to this day from my childhood. I loved growing up here, unfortunately the town has changed tremendously in the last 10-15 years. Wish it would go back to being the little unknown town it was.

    1. I was last there two years ago for (sadly) a funeral. I kept saying, "What happened to Bedford Falls? It's become Pottersville." (Changed, indeed!) It reminded me of Astoria, I guess. Not at all like what I remember from years ago. Sad how everything gets more and more built up and congested.

  13. ....Moved here to College Point from Italy in 1958, when I was 7 years old. So grateful to my parents, for choosing a wondrous place for me to grow in. With the expansive wilderness dumps, around us, that had an Adventure Inn playland at your finger tips, I was able to create any world I choose to live in to play. As I grew, I started to understand that " Change " is inevitable for growth. Adventure Inn is gone, the wilderness dumps are gone. Replaced now with a new type of human wilderness of commercial growth. You might see this as infringement on your fading memoirs of what was, and the yearning for the "good old days". You must remember this, that all that has transpired was the fertile grounds of your youth, that are now deeply rooted in garden of your mind. There is where you live your life. Where you pick the fruits of your labor to nourish your presence, in your every day life. So, you should not be disappointed with what is , but contribute to it. Envision, what it can be. For it is the grounds of another's fertile mind, in which their sowing in their garden. And they will have their own great memoirs of their youth, as you are have of yours,....( *

  14. Just saw this comment, thank you "Unknown." Very nicely said.