“Not the Dirt” – The story of how a man honored and preserved his family’s small-town legacy.

Small Town U.S.A: a hidden beauty.

If you’ve grown up in a small town, you know that it’s a separate world. Everyone knows everyone—and everything. You either love it or hate it. Some folks are made for city life: bustling highways, skyscrapers, the rush of millions of people in one place, all chasing the same things: success, money, a career, etc. Some folks are made for small-town living: sipping coffee on their wrap-around porch, lots of land and a few dogs, everything they need on one street. Whichever category of lifestyle you fall into, each have their pros and cons.

The kindness of strangers and nature: two topics that wildly differ in rural vs. urban living.

Have you ever taken time to analyze the dramatic differences between small-town vs. urban living? It’s obvious that they wildly differ, but what causes this divide? What are the differences? Less people in small towns means more close-knit community, which means personal life has a tendency to become common knowledge. While this lifestyle has its pros and cons, kindness and chivalry are a given. Whether it’s helping someone out with groceries after a loved one passes, a “welcome to the neighborhood” casserole, or just holding the door for someone, the kindness of strangers is a normality in small-towns.

On the other hand, urban areas are extremely populated, making it impossible to know everyone. Each person has their own circle of friends, but complete, close-knit community with an entire city is simply not attainable. Urban areas are chaotic and bustling, filled with people just trying to get from point A to point B. City life is all about climbing the ladder of success. Everyone has their own agenda, leaving no time for “welcome to the neighborhood” casseroles.

It’s a common observation that people in small towns tend to be more selfless than city folks. Not that they are bad people—they’re simply wired to look out for themselves.

After explaining the differences between city natives and people from rural areas, you may wonder: why they are so different? What makes them the way they are? Well, it’s simple: the atmosphere. A small-town setting is much more relaxed compared to that of a busy city, producing more people with a gentle, caring disposition. As Jay Harrington of Life and Whim put beautifully, “There are fewer bright and shiny distractions in a small town, which allows for more space and time to focus on what matters.” In a city filled with tons of distractions, how can one truly take time to slow down and focus on the good in life?

Their connections, their family, or nature, as opposed to a fancy job, money, elite friends, or constantly climbing the ladder of success: the ladder that eventually leads no where.

Just like how Bill Fentress, the subject of “Not the Dirt,” preserved his family’s legacy in rural Maribel, North Carolina, many others in small towns do the same. Tradition, legacy, and land are all extremely important treasures in rural parts of the United States. Cherishing old traditions is something those residents are brought up to do, which makes it a principal part of their lives forever. “Not the Dirt” truly captures the beauty of small-towns in the U.S.A., and how their quaint, welcoming atmospheres shape individuals for a lifetime.