When I first started substitute teaching up in Redstone, one of the things I was worried about was, well, Redstoners. The term was introduced to me by my trainer with the Census Bureau to express her disdain to the Redstone hand-off person. A Redstoner is a Redstonian that basically doesn’t have their act together at all. The hand-off person, for instance, was pregnant by one of two men while trying to convince a third man that he was actually the father. She thought that the not-father might buy it because “Redstoners can’t count to nine (months).” It’s a slight at a particular kind of Redstonian, but with the assumption that most of them fit that profile.

Callieites, as a general rule, don’t like Redstone. I do. But even so, it’s hard to deny that there is a certain lack of… ambition… or put-togetherness among much of its population. Barely 20% have college degrees despite the fact that they have a college. It has a high drop-out rate and a median home price of $115,000. Callie looks downright cosmopolitan by example. My wife’s coworker’s husband, Jack Alvarez, is a thrice-successful entrepreneur who had intended to start a business upon arriving, but quickly discovered a distinct lack of human capital (a lack of people in Callie, a lack of people with skills in Redstone).

So I wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed on to teach their young. Particularly given how the Catholic school likely siphons off a lot of those from good families (2/3 of the town is Catholic, 3/4 if you include Greek/Serbian/Eastern Orthodox). But the student population really surprised me. There were certainly some that were obviously future Redstoners, but a lot that weren’t. Their personalities really start to form in junior high where you can start seeing their trajectories. Some are destined to be Redstoners. A lot, though, seem to me the exact kind of people that would become future employees of Jack Alvarez. Do all of them lose all of that in high school? That was a depressing thought. Then I wondered what these people would do professionally, and in a “no spit, spurlock” moment it became all too clear what happens to them.

They leave.

They go off to college, stay wherever they went, or move some place else where there are jobs. Redstone has lost population (and Alexandria gained it) more census counts than not since it’s peak over half a century ago. Some come back and teach (seems almost every teacher I’ve met went through the Redstone schooling system), but if they keep track of how many of the top half of high school graduates end up staying in Redstone, I’d bet the number to be pretty low. The thought isn’t as depressing as when I was wondering if there was some natural regression, but it’s still kind of sad.

Of course, what’s the alternative? Back when I was working in Mocum, Deseret, I wondered aloud on this blog why so many of the people I knew there were still there working for less than $10/hr when their skills could get them so much more elsewhere. I suppose if I taught in Mocum’s schools I would probably consider the tragedy of those who do leave rather than those that chose not to.


Category: Downtown

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8 Responses to Not Redstoners

  1. Peter says:

    It’s surprising that Redstone is so heavily Catholic. The city where I used to live was widely known for being one of the most heavily Catholic cities in Connecticut, which is in turn one of the most heavily Catholic states, yet it wasn’t nearly as much as 2/3rds. I didn’t think that the West was particularly Catholic at all.

  2. trumwill says:

    The west in general is not, except for the heavily Hispanic areas. Redstone (90+% NH-white) is something of an exception due to its ethnic heritage. Callie is more balanced between Catholic, protestant, and Mormon.

    Some of it depends on how you define “Catholic”, though. The source I used has a much higher number than ARDA, which I suspect only includes those that attend church regularly. Using ARDA as a benchmark, Redstone has similar rates of adherence as Connecticut. The State of Arapaho is in the bottom-half of Catholic states despite Redstone and a few other pockets of Catholicism.

  3. stone says:

    Interesting that it’s so white-trashy, yet so Mediterranean.

    People can’t stay in small towns anymore. They might move back at mid-life, for a good job their connections helped them get and to be with extended family. But intelligent, educated, professional people gravitate toward a few major metro areas, especially in youth. I learned this the hard way when I was lured to a job at a small town (90K people) in central California. The type of men I was looking for just don’t exist outside major metro areas. It’s not proportional at all.

  4. trumwill says:

    Mostly Irish (Irish-Irish, not Scots-Irish) with more than a few Slavs and Eastern Europeans, particularly among teachers. One of the challenges, much of the time, is figuring out how to pronounce the teacher I’m substituting for’s name. Particularly if there are ‘J’s.

    When Clancy was talking to recruiters on the job hunt, one of them commented that there was a young, single male rural doc that had a really hard time finding a job where he might find a wife.

  5. Mike Hunt says:

    But even so, it’s hard to deny that there is a certain lack of… ambition… or put-togetherness among much of its population.

    Lack of ambition isn’t bad per se; the problem is that it correlates with other undesirable traits. It is a problem for someone who lacks ambition, yet is bright, hard-working, a good citizen, etc.

    Because of prejudice, it is getting to the point where someone is doing themselves a disservice if they go to a college other than the “best” one he got into. Others don’t care that you would be drowning in student loans; they want you to turn down the full ride to Directional State University.

  6. trumwill says:

    There was a discussion a while back on that subject… whether going to a good school makes you successful or whether being the kind of kid that gets into a good school makes you successful. I can’t remember what conclusion we reached.

    In any event, I was accepted into better schools than the one I went to. So was Clancy. Not sure the degree to which it ended up hurting us. I got my first job in part cause the company’s owner was a fellow Southern Tech grad. It may have been mitigated for each of us due to the fact that I was in the Honors College and Clancy was in some ritzy clubs and was a National Merit Scholar.

  7. Peter says:

    Mostly Irish (Irish-Irish, not Scots-Irish) with more than a few Slavs and Eastern Europeans, particularly among teachers.

    That’s surprising. Not too many Irish immigrants settled in the western states, in part because much of that area was still thinly populated frontier land during the heyday of Irish immigration.

  8. trumwill says:

    Redstone is full of interesting oddities. Catholic, Irish, strong military tradition, and quite liberal (Obama won 2-to-1 in the city). It’s really a fascinating place. A great backdrop for crime novels… if only there were more crime!

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