This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

Visiting small towns and bad neighborhoods

If you've ever lived in a small town, you know how it easy it is to keep track of who belongs there, and who doesn't. You recognize the cars of your neighbors, their children, the people who go back and forth every day. If there is a stranger in town, many eyes watch them. If you live in a big suburban neighborhood, this probably sounds strange, and maybe a little creepy. In the suburban neighborhood where I live, cars go by with rolled-up windows, then disappear into automatically-opened garages and into homes surrounded by block walls. It's rare to actually see people, because, well, it's not the way the neighborhood is designed.

I've lived in small towns, and in bad neighborhoods, and there is definitely a comparison between the two. Bad neighborhoods operate on the same premise as small towns, if there is a stranger wandering around, they are probably up to no good. Or, if they mean no harm, hopefully they will be spending some money.

The best advice that I can give to people who would like to visit bad neighborhoods because of an historic interest is *don't*. The people who live there will not know why you are there, and will become immediately suspicious. And while you know that you are there for an innocent reason, they will only see *stranger danger*. And as for ordinary small towns, the best thing to do is to spend some money. Buy something at the roadside, eat a cafe, buy something at a garage sale, buy an antique. I personally love to visit small towns because of my interest in history, and I consider the purchase of a few things from local merchants a reasonable price to pay.

Of course, there really is no such thing as a *bad neighborhood*. It's where people live. If you show respect, and some common sense, you will be fine. May I suggest Google Street View?
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