To a city guy, small towns have a lot of things in common. There is the meat locker for instance. That’s where us “city folk” go to get the best beef. It is Iowa corn fed, slaughtered and processed on site then quick frozen and wrapped in white paper that’s labeled with your name and not for sale. It isn’t some range cattle that’s shipped half way across the country, loosing weight and flavor along the way like the rest of you folks get. It’s Iowa prime and there aint none better!
Then there is the restaurant. Some come with a lunch counter and some have a buffet. They all have that rural Midwest small town feel with friendly waitresses, old farmers in bibs telling stories and drinking a bottomless cup of coffee and good food. If you don’t know what I mean by good food, then you have never eaten in one. If you are lucky there is fresh pie.
But for me the one thing that sets a town apart is the grain elevator. A grain elevator elevates the status a bit and definitely brings in more traffic. Plus you can see where the town is from miles away. The challenge is getting there once you spot the poured concrete monolith rising above the horizon.
Think of the elevator as a hub in the wheel that is corn. Save the corn grown for your own feed lot, nearly every grain passes through an elevator on its way to the end user. Field to truck to elevator to rail car to elevator to barge, the route rarely varies. The small town elevators are rarely jam-packed like the ADM depots with their long lines of straight trucks and semis waiting in queue for hours. It’s a bit more laid back in town.
The other thing that most, if not all, towns have is a ball field. It’s not a soccer filed, or a football field but a good old all American, baseball, hotdogs and apple pie base ball field. Complete, if you are lucky, with grand stands, running water restrooms and an honest to goodness concession stand. It’s the kind that has hotdogs and burgers and maybe even a steaming boat of Nachos.
There probably isn’t anything more Iowan than a Saturday afternoon baseball game under the shadow of the elevator, but that’s a story for another time.