The highway curves into switchbacks as it drops into the valley. With less than 500 people in it, Jasper is no metropolis. There are no fast food chains, stoplights, or billboards along its dozen or so streets. I drove past the library and the market where a little old woman sells local produce and delicious jam for reasonable prices. I slowed down to admire her pumpkins.
After the market there is what looks like a yard sale, but it is a store front of sorts. The man who runs it leaves his priced items, a box of envelopes, and some pens out for people to shop and pay. The customer chooses an item and pays for it by putting money in an envelope then dropping the envelope in a slot on the locked shed nearby. Once I stopped in while the owner was pricing new merchandise. I asked him if it worked, didn't people steal? He said, no; occasionally people gave him a little less than what was on the price tag, but people wouldn't steal in public view in a town where everyone either knows who you are or that you're not from around here. Only in Jasper.
In the center of town there is an old courthouse. The highway curves sharply around one side of the square that the courthouse stands on. Along the square there is a great pizza parlor, an authentic Ozark restaurant, a lovely antique shop, a few other stores, and then you are heading out of town again. At the edge of town there is a gas station, dollar store, farm store, and Bob's--the grocery store. The highway continues onward toward Dogpatch, a hillybilly amusement park that was shut down years ago.
But I had a purpose in Jasper, I was there to vote; so I stopped along the square and went into the courthouse. The people there were as friendly as ever. I love doing my business in Jasper. In most cities the revenue office, assessors office, and health department is a nightmare of long lines and grumpy people. But in a small town these offices are empty and the people behind the desks greet you with a smile because they are glad someone came to visit them. Such pleasant experiences should not be so rare.