The town of Alvo, Nebraska, is like a lot of other small Midwestern towns whose best days are behind it; and those days weren’t exactly eventful to begin with. After decades of population loss there remain four structures in Alvo that a visitor can enter without trespassing: the grain co-op, a Methodist church, a post office, and Mel’s Mini-mart — a converted room in a small house selling canned soup, Hostess snack cakes, and other items with long shelf lives. Across from the post office is a tidy but barren park. If prosaic comforts and tight-knit community are the calling cards of small town life, they aren’t obvious here. With few places to gather and nothing but the cornfields of agribusiness on the horizon, Alvo has only quiet anonymity and rock bottom real estate to offer.
December 12, 2012 Essays