I Don’t Mean To Alarm You…


Sometimes I write to inform you. Sometimes I write to entertain you. But today I’m writing to warn you. The information I’m about to share may be disturbing to sensitive readers.


Recently I wrote a column pondering the all important question: who is Grand Cane’s Ernest T. Bass, from “The Andy Griffith Show”? I fondly referred to my community as “a three digit small town.” It brought back a memory, the first time I crossed the village line and read the precious sign, “Life is Grand in Grand Cane.” Oh, how adorable! I knew I’d love this charming Mayberry-esque community. My eyes traveled to the green sign bearing the official population of 298. Definitely not too big and hopefully, not too small. A Goldilocks kind of town.


Last week, I searched for the most recent statistics on Grand Cane and discovered something alarming: my precious three digit small town is shrinking! According to https://worldpopulationreview.com (and why would they lie?), the projected population of Grand Cane for 2024 is 213, down from 219 recorded by the 2020 census. 


Many disturbing thoughts flooded my brain. First, this mysterious number, 298. Where did it come from? Has the village council been lying to us all these years? Was that population number ever accurate, or does my whole small town experience sit on a throne of lies?


More importantly, did the population decline begin when I moved to Grand Cane? Honestly, this thought is the most disturbing, considering my recent search for Grand Cane’s Ernest T. Bass. This innocent statistic could be the conclusive proof I need to admit I am the Ernest T. of my adopted home town, and quite possibly the reason it’s shrinking. Can I right this wrong, this horrendous situation, that may or may not be all my fault? I’m certainly going to try! 


Grand Cane proper is exactly 1.1 square miles. In 1990, the census recorded 231 residents, more evidence the population number on the sign is over-inflated. But that’s a subject for another column on my conspiracy theory about the Grand Cane powers that be and their quest to hide our shrinking population.

I drilled down into more statistics, courtesy of my new friends at World Population Review. The marital status overall for my beloved community is 56.2%, a respectable percentage. But here’s where it gets weird, and makes me question the blossoming friendship. 50.0% of the men are married, but 67.6% of the women are too. Shouldn’t the two statistics be closer together? Where are the 17.6% of these women hiding their husbands? Or does this mean the men have multiple wives? Inquiring minds want to know! Well, maybe we’d rather not.


I’m going to recommend to the council that we spend some money on this distressing problem. First, someone needs to investigate why more women in Grand Cane are married than men. If we’ve got a polygamous compound nearby, our elected leaders need to address that problem. Note: John explained the fallacy of my computations. Rest assured, we probably don’t have a polygamy community in our midst. But the council might want to double check that, just in case.


Second, we’ve got to attract more people! We have 105 adults, which means we have more children than adults. That in itself is a little frightening—if you haven’t seen “Children of the Corn”, or any of those other movies where the kids take over the town, then you need to educate yourself. Every parent knows, when the kids outnumber the adults, there’s going to be trouble.


Jann Goar Franklin graduated Russellville High School in 1989. You can reach her at jann@jannfranklin.com