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Small-town life takes bad rap
By Barry Schrader.................................January
A Somonauk native, Cameron Gibson, who recently graduated
from film school at Northwestern University, has made a senior
project documentary titled Dinosaur about small-town
life in rural America. It did not paint a very flattering picture.
For example, it opens with a five-minute shot of a burn barrel
smoldering on a farm in winter.
I read about it
in a Daily Chronicle article a month ago when it was to be previewed
at the Somonauk Library. I sought a copy from Gibson, who now
works in TV production in Los Angeles, which he readily provided.
I recently showed it to a group of 20 senior citizens in DeKalb.
There were no positive reactions there.
So I called
Somonauk Library Director Julie Wasson
A solitary burn barrel smoldering on a farm, similar
to the one featured in the documentary "Dinosaur" (Schrader
in a search for other opinions. She provided the names of some
people who attended the screening and I was able to find some
younger people who went to school with Gibson.
of his Somonauk High classmates, Matt Stark, saw it as a fairly
accurate look at their lives. For my generation all they
did was drink on weekends because there was nothing else to do,
he said. He had worked on some films for classes in high school
with Gibson and recalled ones about the Civil War and the Great
Depression era. He said the audience at the Somonauk showing
was fairly balanced: A third his age, maybe a third in their
30s and 40s, and then the remainder 60 and up. Another classmate
who had graduated a year earlier (2005) from Somonauk, Jacob
Glover, thought it showed a different perspective
just one reflection of small-town life.
have always looked back fondly at my roots in small towns and
am glad to be a product of rural America, starting out as a farm
kid, spending a few years in grade school in Somonauk and Waterman,
then living along the Kishwaukee River for several years while
going through middle and high school in Genoa.
Kroening of Somonauk expressed a similar view to mine of what
Gibson portrayed. I just feel it didnt prove anything,
she commented. She also felt it missed the fact that there is
much more to small-town life, and many kids seem bored during
their growing-up years. So I think Gibson could go back and do
a documentary on how busy farm life can be, how much responsibility
kids learn at a young age, and what community events exist if
you just look for them.
I found some small
town quotes on the Internet and enjoyed this one from the
late newspaper columnist Bill Vaughan: My father asserted
that there is no better place to bring up a family than in a
rural environment. ... Theres something about getting up
at 5 a.m., feeding the stock and chickens, and milking a couple
of cows before breakfast that gives you a lifelong respect for
the price of butter and eggs.
I found, this one attributed to Don Dillman, former chairman
of the Washington State University Rural Sociology Department:
Ironically, rural America has become viewed by a growing
number of Americans as having a higher quality of life not because
of what it has, but rather because of what it does not have.
It would be interesting to show Gibsons 33-minute
documentary to a social studies class at Somonauk (or Sandwich,
Indian Creek or Hinckley-Big Rock) High School and see what others
think of this very narrow portrayal of life in our county.
Most Recent Comment
D. L. O'Rourke wrote on January 25, 2011 6:37 a.m. ...
Growing up on New Leb. Rd between Genoa and Hampshire, my parents
and g-ma kept us quite busy with chores. With the 45-50 min bus
ride to and from school, didn't leave much time in the mornings
or afternoons. We did have our fun tho, jumping off the railroad
bridge, into coon creek, playing in the fields, riding our bikes
for miles w/o worrying about being hit, building forts, mini-bikes,
target shooting, and jumping on the caboose of the trains that
would only go 5-10mph through to go into Genoa or Hampshire for
the day (got swatted for that,lol). Small towns are GREAT, then
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