Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago – where one city blurs into the next – Goodland was like something I had never seen before. Even the four years I spent in the cornfields at the University of Iowa didn’t prepare me for the small town feeling here. It was one of the reasons that I just had to stay.
My move to Goodland was far from traditional. I arrived with only a suitcase full of clothes and intentions to stay for the week. Somehow I never left. In my search to find a place to live, I was warmly welcomed by some of the great people here, and almost immediately I was offered three different places to stay. As I had only come down on vacation, I didn’t even have my car – one of my father’s main concerns. Yet, I was able to find rides into town (Marco Island is considered “town”) whenever I needed. Eventually I got my car back and I recently moved to my own place in Goodland. The generosity of my neighbors continued – I was offered everything from microwaves to furniture tosilverware. My home was put together with help from the residents of Goodland.
These displays of kindness are why I made Goodland my home. The generosity does not stop there. In fact, just the other day a neighbor patched a hole in my tire after I had run over a nail. The people here are truly like no other. If you are sick, they bring you food and medicine. If you are expecting a baby, you will have everything you need through gifts and hand-me-downs. In fact, it isn’t uncommon to receive gifts from your neighbors here for no reason at all. And of course, holidays, birthdays, and any other special events are a community affair.
As Goodland is so small it seems that everyone is your neighbor. If you live here, you know Goodland is a community of friends who are always willing to lend a hand. Not only am I proud to be a resident of Goodland, but I am also very honored to have been asked to write about our village. Hopefully I have done a better job of explaining our “Drinking Village With a Fishing Problem” in this article than I did to my father when I first arrived.
Natalie Strom has lived in Goodland for over two years and has worked in Goodland on and off for more than five years. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is also a former Buzzard Queen of Stan’s Idle Hour in Goodland.