A Small Town with A lot at Steak
CODY, Neb--We would have probably driven by Cody, if we hadn’t seen its motto. On a sign that had been put up long before the recession, but seemed to spit in the face of it anyway, were six words: A town too tough to die.
It said as much about struggle as success, and those who live in Cody will tell you that, unfortunately, it's as relevant today as when it went up decades ago. Like many small towns, where children attend the same school that their grandparents once did and where houses are handed down across generations, Cody was not hit by the national foreclosure crisis or by any major factory shutdown. Instead, the recession found a more indirect way to show itself in this community: steak.
This is cow country, Mayor Randy Schneider explained, and when people across the nation stop buying quality Nebraskan beef, the ranchers feel it.
“A lot of the national news about the recession, you sort of read it and say, ‘That’s over there,’” Schneider said. “But it comes back. If people don’t eat beef, they buy that poisonous stuff, chicken and fish. Or pork -- yech, I hate even saying that word.”
He half joked, but he is also a loan officer at Cody’s only bank and said the cattle prices for next month -- when many of the ranchers will sell the bulk of their herd and collect the majority of their pay for the year -- are not looking good. And if the year is not good to the ranchers, it won’t be good to any of the surviving businesses in town.
“We’re only here to serve the cattle industry, and so if they aren’t here, Cody doesn’t need to be here," Schneider said.
Still, true to its motto, the town is a fighter that has remained in the ring long after others in its weight class might have given up. On each side of Cody, Michael and I drove past the shuttered buildings of several ghost towns -- places that weren't too tough to die.
“We’ve just hung in there,” said Dewayne Lancaster, who runs the livestock supply store in Cody. Of a nearby town, he added, “We always joke that its sign should say, ‘A town too tired to care.’”
Posted by: dottie_b | August 31, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse
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