An nice article from 2001 in the San Francisco Chronicle about the fair city of Chico is worth savoring:
“Let’s get this out of the way right now: One of Herb Caen’s most enduring punch lines – that Chico’s Safeway stocks Velveeta cheese on the ‘gourmet food’ aisle – is no longer true. I checked. Sorry, Herb.
But in many other happy ways, Chico is still stuck in the 1950s. From leafy Bidwell Park, with its bandstands and swimming holes, to a downtown straight out of Main Street USA, it manages to hold onto the homespun delights of a small college town while mixing in the comforts and necessities of today’s world. Think of it as Mayberry with a microbrewery.
Increasingly, I find myself pining not for luxury-collection hotels or jaw-dropping scenery or Michelin-starred restaurants, but for the sort of idealized small town where people wave to you as they drive by, where the wood-floor hardware store smells of nails and hemp rope, where old men read the newspaper in barbershop chairs, where pigeons roost atop statues and mothers gather with their baby strollers in green parks. I yearn to pick up and go live in such a town – if only for a weekend …”
I have to say, with the unfortunate wreckovation of downtown plaza, Chico’s downtown has morphed into something more like Berkeley than Mayberry. But there remain many fine shops and restaurants amidst the “grit”, and some of them do have the Mayberry touch. I’m thinking of “Mom’s” restaurant in particular.