Sunday, August 13, 2006

On Lebanon

I'm from a small town. It's not super tiny... I'm only related to five people in the whole town by blood. I never attended school with any cousins, never had to walk barefoot in the snow. No where in my pedigree do lines cross or anything; the town isn't that small. But at just over 12,000 people, this town feels small. I'm listing a few of the unique and special things that make Lebanon what it is.
  • The Wal-Mart Controversy: we got our first evil box store about ten years ago, a horrific eye-sore on the south end of town. Known for our quality 'mom and pop' shops on main street (that often donated tidy sums to local schools), WM moved in and took over the town. With business going so well, about three years ago, WM decided we needed to have a Supercenter to further crumble the local economy. Instead of expanding the old store, they opted to pave over historically significant monuments and build a new store one block away from the old store. They faced angry opposition, but blew through any legalities and built without regard for this town. A church bought the old store shell. I hate Wal-Mart. I will not set foot inside that store.
  • Farmland in town. No kidding, there are large lots of grass growing right in the middle of town. Grass to combine and sell for seed...
  • The whole town is a wireless hotspot. We were the first in the country, a test-bed for wireless internet. Free up to ten hours a month. There is a box on the lightpost outside my bedroom... too bad I'm wired. Oh well.
  • There are no shopping malls here, no stores that sell clothes. I suppose one could pick up a pair of socks from Bi-Mart or the dreaded WM, but no department stores.
  • We do have an old-style movie theatre though. The Kuhn is a one-screen theatre right on north Main, street parking only, and so very cute. Recently renovated (for the tenth time), it has all new seating, a good screen, and great prices.
  • Churches! For the religious folks, we have your church here. Catholic, Missouri Synod/ELCA Lutheran, Mennonite, United/Free Methodist, Episcopal, Evangelical, LDS/Mormon, Church of Christ, Church of God, Assembly of God, First Christian, Foursquare Gospel, Calvary, Jehovah's Witness, Seventh Day Adventist, Conservative/Southern/Reformed Baptist, Pentecostal, Charismatic Churches, Disciples, Interdenominational, Nondenominational, Nazarene, Presbyterian... we've got it all here!
  • The best-tasting tap water in the country. National poll, Salem was on top, but locally, Lebanon still has better tap water. They put stuff in it, chlorine and fluoride... but it's good. If only for the water, Lebanon was much better than Corvallis.
  • We have a speedway. Not like NASCAR, but almost. They race quarter-midgets and other things there--summer nights are often filled with the sound of races down at the track. I've only gone to watch once, and I fell asleep with my grown-man-sized earmuffs weighing my head to the grandstand bench.
  • The public library is rather small, but adequate for the town. It used to be a hospital: my aunts and uncle were born there. High up in the eaves on the front of the building is an old hospital crest. I like that building.
  • Lebanon can be safe or dangerous. My best friend's parents went on a week-long vacation and left their garage door wide open, side door open, windows open... came back without a problem. But we also have one of the highest sex-offender populations, and like much of the state, a methamphetamine problem.
  • The town acts as a 'bedroom community' for the surrounding larger cities. HP executives, doctors, teachers, lawyers, and politicians call Lebanon home. With a great location, one can visit both mountains and the ocean in one day, going from farmland to big cities in an hour.
  • History! The town sits on the old Oregon Trail on the valley floor. Local museums boast to the long tradition of hard work and great entertainment from eons past.
  • We have five major car dealerships, four more than necessary for the population. I guess that means we have a larger number of slimy car salesmen than we ought to as well.
  • The best strawberries on earth. So that's a biased opinion, but it's an experienced one. I won't eat strawberries that weren't grown here. Sheesh, we have our own Strawberry Festival, the largest draw for our main industry: tourism! Haha, yup. 's true.
  • Don't come here for a fancy dinner--there isn't a single fine dining restaurant in town. I can, however, point you in the direction of a few of my favorite kitchens...
  • The Chamber of Commerce is next-door to the laundromat and across the street from a tire shop. You can wash your undies, fill your tires, and ... what the heck do you do at a Chamber of Commerce?
  • And if that isn't enough, we have The Can Man. I'm not making fun of him at all - he's a sweet man and provides the town a valuable service. Deaf since birth, The Can Man wanders the town each day looking for empty pop cans to take back to the store for money.
We also have a distinct local dialect, but I'm working a stand-alone post all about our funky talk. Anything else you want to know about the crazy town I come from, let me know. Now you just have to decide on a church... ;)

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