It’s been a while since I wrote a tribute to the small town life, and while I realize we don’t live in Mayberry, I still consider our dear Opelika a small town.
I googled Opelika, just to see what a person who knew nothing about us would find. I was a bit surprised by some of our colorful history. I was more surprised that I have lived here for the better part of fifty years and didn’t know a lot of that history. I was familiar with the railroad officials telling people on trains to “duck” while passing through Opelika due to the gunfights that seemed to spontaneously break out when poker games in the saloons didn’t end well. But, I didn’t know that our town charters had been revoked (several times). Seems the early citizens had a difficult time behaving.
In short, Opelika was founded by ruffians who “removed” the native population and built a string of businesses to service the railroad clientele. One article I read even stated that a bribe brought the textile giant that built the village to our fair little town. I never learned this in a history class.
We have certainly grown, both in number and in maturity. Our downtown area is beautiful and the businesses seem to be triving. We can be proud of our restaurants and specialty shops. People are beginning to make Opelika a destination, not just a stop along the way.
I work at a large retail store where it is against company policy to handle the purchases made by “friends and family.” I will never be a cashier. It would be pointless to have me stand there and continually have to remove all those I hold dear from my line.
In spite of our rough beginnings, I believe we have come to be a wonderful place to live. I have thoroughly enjoyed raising a family in a city where we own a business, work, worship and have too many friends to count.
While it may not be Mayberry, Opelika still offers that small town atmosphere, and to me there’s just no place like home.