SoCS: growing up in the sticks

I grew up in the sticks.

It’s an expression I don’t hear much anymore. OK – I don’t hear it at all anymore. I’m not sure how widespread its usage was but it means to grow up in an out-of-the-way place. I grew up in a town of 200 people, give or take, in western Massachusetts along the Vermont border. We had a little general store which had the post office in it. We had a paper mill where most of the people in town worked. We had a school that went up through eighth grade. We even had a little bar/restaurant called “The Club.”

Everything else – big grocery stores, clothing stores, the high school, doctors, banks, etc. – was twenty miles away.

So, to me, where I lived was the definition of  “the sticks.”

I was surprised after I moved to Broome County NY – aka Greater Binghamton – that the definition of “the sticks” was different. In New York State, it seems that everything gets compared to New York City. There is The City, its suburbs and Long Island – and everything else becomes “upstate,” mashing together large cities like Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, with smaller cities, towns, villages, and very rural areas, such as the Adirondacks.

So even though I live on the southern border of the state, just a few miles from the state line with Pennsylvania, I am “upstate.” I live in a town that is a hundred times larger in population than my hometown, about the size of the twenty-mile-away city that we used to go to for shopping and services when I was growing up. My current town is a suburb of Binghamton, which is a city with its own opera company, symphony, minor league baseball and hockey teams, and all kinds of other amenities that were much further afield when I was growing up.

Yet, because we are small compared to NYC, we are considered to be “the sticks.”

Go figure.
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is: “stick.”  Come join in the fun! Find out how here: http://lindaghill.com/2015/05/15/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-may-1615/

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