A Balloon In Cactus
Small Towns
By Marge Van Ostrand

     Expatriates are way ahead of the game. They’re already in the places other people want to be, small Mexican towns.
     Small Mexican towns provide interesting fare—one might observe a 10" wooden virgin make it rain in Ajijic (when she is politely asked to), or dance around Satan’s bonfire with the Yaquis in the Bactete Sierra to see if one gets burned, or, in Nayarit in June, get one’s hair cut with a machete. (They say the hair grows back even better if the chopping is done on a threshold.)
     Since many expatriates are from small towns in the U.S. where people can be as nice as they are in Mexico, and since I am always eager to help, I offer the following generous selection of American small towns which might be enjoyed by visiting Mexicans.
     The folks of Victor, Colorado, which calls itself “One of those places that time likes to forget,” have an annual pothole update and all are invited to join in the count.
     Pioche, Nevada, snorts at claims by both Tombstone, Arizona, and Dodge City, Kansas, that they were the baddest of the wild west mining camps. Pioche was “so tough we imported 20 hired killers each day” and “75 men were killed in gun fights and already buried in the cemetery long before anyone died of natural causes.” The town was said to be peaceful only “if you stayed out of the way of the bullets.”
     Earlville, Illinois, claims to be the source of “The World’s Best Dirt,” though it’s most eagerly anticipated event is the annual Find A Pig Contest held at The Crazy Horse Saloon.
     Morehead City, North Carolina, hosts a Bald Men’s Convention each September. Their motto: “If you haven’t got it, flaunt it.”
     Booger Hollow, Arkansas, Population 7 (“countin’ one coon dog”), boasts a two story outhouse. You can get a Boogerburger at the Trading Post.
     Livingston, Montana has a Duck Derby, where rubber ducks are released into the water for a two furlong (1/4 mile) race, with a grudge match to be held in the event of a tie.
     Montpelier, Vermont, holds an annual Rotten Sneaker Contest, spotlighting “stinky feet.” Odor Eaters sponsors a search for the “best of the worst.”
     The teeming metropolis of Park Falls, Wisconsin, is more than just the Ruffed Grouse Capital of the World. Residents are mighty proud of the fact that Park Falls is the only town in all of Price County with two traffic lights.
     Jefferson, Texas, each year hosts a re-enactment of the “Trial of the Century,” based on an 1870s local murder trial. “Diamond Bessie” Moore, rumored to have once been a high priced “soiled dove” out of Arkansas, was traveling with one Mr. A. Rothschild. Suspicions of foul play were aroused when Mr. Rothschild, who had left on a picnic with Bessie, returned alone that evening, sporting Bessie’s diamond rings on his fingers. Two weeks later, Bessie’s body was discovered and, it was graciously noted by the ladies of Jefferson, “She was very well dressed, considering the hole in her forehead.” Mr. Rothschild unsuccessfully attempted suicide with the same BB gun he had used on poor dead Bessie.
     Glen Rose, Texas, proudly referred to as the Whiskey Woods Capital of Texas, is the only American town where you can get a Dinosaur Hunting License.
     In Loda Cemetery Prairie in Iroquois County, Illinois, a visitor might partake of The Hairy Jointed Meadow Parsnip.
     Mike “Chainsaw” Elmer fondly remembers his youth in Sunnymeade, California, where the local children found a unique way to fight boredom. They lifted up the eyelids of the bull sleeping in grandpa’s pasture, then ran like hell. Can’t really beat that for down home entertainment.
     I haven’t even told you about the bareback ostrich races, pumpkin flinging contests, tombstone tilting races, bayonet polishing competitions, and the Byron, Illinois, Annual Turkey Testicle Festival. (All true, my friends.)
     No matter which side of the border you’re on, with interesting small towns in both countries, there’s just no reason to sit home and watch TV.