Straussberg is a completely fictional town in Middle Tennessee. I am going with a fictional city and mall because ... frankly? I've never been integrated with anywhere well enough to feel like I have a sense of place there. This is me attempting to just push on and do what I can do.
A small town of roughly 23 000 people. It's not a 'bust' town so much as it tried to be bigger, failed, and now has settled into a stable population size. Back in the late '80's there was an attempt at making it a sort of tourist destination much like Gaitlynberg was, except with a focus on 'The Tennessee of the Future' instead of what presentations to investment groups labeled 'acting like Tennessee's Glory Days are behind it.' For a brief moment it looked like there might actually be headway with the construction then opening of the Mall of the Millinium. Unfortunately that was the only structure of note built from the 'Straussberg's Century' project. Populations dropped, what little tourism from out of country dried up, and while there was an overal sense of disappointment life moved on and most quietly accepted Straussberg as a sleepy out of the way town that was still within an hour's drive of larger destinations.
Mall of the Millinium.
Derisively coined 'Mall of the Minute' considering the accompanying park, convention center, hotels, and other structures within the 'Century' project never materialized. It was originally conceaved to be twice it's current size in terms of total interrior space, with a ring of exterrior buildings that would have been at where the current boarders of its parking lot are. It was concived to reflect the attitudes of its chief designer that modern convenience didn't have to dominate and overpower Nature. It's intent was to feature green spaces, promote natural lighting, and be at the hub of a destination not just for tourists, but for resedents to spend a day at, or just get what they needed done and catch a bus back into town proper. Like the parkland and entertainment venues, the mass transit options went up in smoke when it became clear the money just wasn't there to impliment anything but the mall.
For a time, though, Straussberg and the surrounding cities provided enough foot traffic to keep up appearances that 'The Millinium' was thriving. Even with the rise of the internet in the 90's, it was still a golden era for malls. There was this rush of life, purpose, and often even with those that made jokes or perhaps indulged in gallows humor, there was a collective sense that this couldh ave been far more. That leads into the establisment of Millinium as an entity and character and will not be further discussed.
Instead? The decline started in a twofold form: The dot-com bubble bursting ending that decade of wild speculative optimism, and the housing speculation crash in 08. Over the next decade it would lose stores as it lost foot traffic. Eventually coming up for auction as the holding firm that had gained ownership declared it a lost cause when 2020 caused the last anchor store to shutter permenently. Now, years later, it has been aqquired by 'Flying Fawkes Investment and Real Estate.' What happens next? In the wordsof Robert Jordan. Read and Find Out.
St. Davis High
the school that the majority of the primary cast goes to. Named after a civil war battle site rather than the Saint themselves. Whiel far from the worst in the public education system, they would be rather low on the list of taxpayer funded locations to get new equipment outside of emergancies, donations, or fundraisers. Home to a competent wrestling team that's gone to state every year for the past twenty years, a middling football program, and the unfortunate site of a scandal that, fortunately for their reputation, got overshadowed then burried when the pandemic hit. While the tales are tall and accusations many, the fact was out of cour tsettlements got paid to two freshmen girls and several facilty members (PE, one of the infirmary's nurses, and a teacher's aid) were let go with no given cause.
That was just before the lockdowns happened and the scattershot attempts at remote learning implimented.
When students were let back into the classrooms stricter rules were in place for student/facalty interactions, and the removal of a dedicated physical education/gym class. Obstinantly this was 'for student safety to minamize contact if-' along with cries of budgetary concerns, but people whisper, and sometimes those whispers hold truth to them.
As of the start of the story there has been a push by the student body for more 'outside the classroom opprotunities.' Given most of the student body are not bound for higher education this is largely attempts at getting things on a resume that would look good on a job application and help them stand out from everyone else destined for the recruiter's garbage can. For others, this general push to learn outside the class room represents a chance, however brief, to experiance life outside of the bubble that they'll largely be stuck in post graduation.
St. Davis Battlefield and Memorial
Outside of Virginia Tennessee has the most battles of the Civil War out of any state. St. Davis Field was the site of a three day engadgement ending in a confederate loss thanks to a, quite literally, suicidal ride across the confederate picket lines. Artifacts are occasionally still found there, guided tours are given on weekends with reenactors setting up once or twice a year much to the indiffrence of most of hte local population and has sparked several attempted protests in recent years over 'portraying the confederacy in a negative light.' Nevermind the volunteers themselves went through quite literally ever ycorrispondance, report, and eye whitness testemonial that's survived to provide a window ... if not to that specific battle, into the general tone and feel of the era as well as a soldier's eye view of not just what happened but why.
It should be noted that the monument erected in the early 1900's has recently been removed 'for glorifying negative aspects of our history' and has been replaced. the original has been placed in the in door museum near the back with its own exhibit on it's creation, whom paid for its construction and installation, and a biography of General George T. Anderson, who's likeness the original memorial statue was fashioned into.
The new memorial is of a pair of soldiers standing at parade rest, heads bowed, rifle held butt down in front of them with their caps hanging off the bayonettes with a plaque that reads “The Civil War defined us as what we are and it opened us to being what we became, good and bad things... It was the crossroads of our being, and it was a hell of a crossroads.” - Shelby Foote
This soldier's Field also holds a secret known only to a few and only now is coming into prominance. What that is? Well. It involves the spooky side of things rather than yet more scandal or trauma.
Paul Lane's family home for a majority of his life. A twenty acre farm his stepdad bought and moved to just before the recession hit. While Paul derides the place as 'Howie's Playpen' it does have enough going on that it is essentially a full time job to mantain. At one point there were six horses, but now only two. Three dozen chickens, two donkies, and whatever project his stepdad is working on at the minute. Privately he resentshow much time he feels he has to spend helping, but he understands that this was his stepdad's way of hopefully providing something for him and his siblings.
Beyond the ever changing projects, field layout, and the barnyard petting zoo a small find of civil war era objects were found when excivating for a new shop building. For a brief moment the place was relevant to the wider world and then quickly fell back into its sleepy patterns. there is more here than Paul will telland more than anyone in the family is rightly aware of.
As of right now i don't have any other locations really fleshed out beyond barebones 'I need this.' They will get entries as they become important. I dont' know how much of any of this will come up but I wanted to make sure these places have a sense of being lived in or with.
Mall Rats Index