Featured Writing: Filming a Beautiful Town in Decay: ‘Rich Hill’ and the Elusive American Dream
By Tracy Droz Tragos
Once upon a time there was coal and ambition in Rich Hill—a rural town in southwestern Missouri with a population of 1,330—but shortly after World War II most of both ran dry.
For me, the most important thing about Rich Hill is family. It’s the town where my father grew up. He was killed in Vietnam when I was three months old, and my relationship with his family, particularly my grandparents, was especially close. They were like surrogate parents and a huge influence on my life and my work. My grandmother was the third grade school teacher in Rich Hill; my grandfather owned the town grocery store, and when he was forced to close it, he became the rural mail carrier. Both my grandparents worked hard and although they would never be considered well off, they were fortunate to have steady jobs and a home. And they gave back to their community.
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