From The Publisher: Jun. 24, 1991

Journalists often need to be archaeologists, sifting through the pottery shards and empty chambers of a place to unlock its mysteries. During his 33 years at TIME, Washington contributing editor Hugh Sidey has developed his own way to recognize the character of small towns. "If there is a nice, tidy Episcopal church, then you know there is a strong ruling elite," he says. "If there is a huge Methodist church, you know there is a large middle class. And if you go to the main square and the streets are deserted, you know there is a discount store somewhere in the...

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