Last weekend I visited my hometown and did a lot of walking. The uptown area, like most small-town shopping districts, has been decimated by the malling of America and its most recent iteration, the Big Box Strip. In the 1970's, the downtowns (I always called my hometown's "uptown" because it was up a hill...) in the area lost shoppers in large part, I would say, because they couldn't compete with the ease of parking provided by malls. Smaller downtowns that didn't have anchor stores were even more vulnerable, as the big department stores gave people another reason to go to the mall. That and to get engraved mugs and other keepsakes.
However, I'm not really trying to write about a major shift in the way Americans order their consumption habits. What actually prompted this post is a storefront I saw during my walks. Since it's an election season and there's plenty of available storefronts in the uptown, several candidates have set up shop on the main drag and have at least given the owners some rent through the election season. Here's a sign I saw in one of the storefronts:
The slogan really had me thinking, what the hell is a "conservative reformer" anyway, and is his opponent running as a "liberal traditionalist"?
At any rate, the town has been there an awfully long time. Only a few storefronts remain that I remember from my youth: a sporting goods shop, a music store, a jewelers, a furniture store, a formal wear shop, and a hotel/bar/cafe, inside which I spent a good part of my dissipated youth:
The bar is in the basement and its low ceiling insures you that you will reek of smoke if you spend even five minutes in the bar. It's also the place where I nearly came to blows with a friend of my brother as we argued over Iraq during the pre-invasion bombardment. I simply couldn't convince him that Saddam Hussein was not behind September 11th and that there were no Iraqis on the planes...oh well, that's only 2500+ US lives and at least 39,000 Iraqi civilian lives under the bridge (in 2004, The Lancet estimated perhaps 100,000 Iraqi deaths, but really what does any of that matter now that the Bush Administration has made the world so much more safer, or as Bush likes to say, "more safetized") ...
And speaking of death, when the town has been there for a long time, a lot of people die there and tend to get buried there. This cemetery provided a cheerful background for recess when I was in elementary school:
[IMAGE UPLOAD THWARTED BY BLOGGER, YET AGAIN]
The school is long gone, having been torn down circa 1983, and in its place are some truly hideous houses with vinyl siding and it makes me sad every time I see them, because it's like patching classic denim with some acid washed nastiness. As Hamlet would say, the time is out of joint.
The new school and its environs is another story altogether, and one that I might tell next time I get back home to do some photos.