Wednesday, April 9, 2014

If We Rebuild It, They Will Come Back

This house is at 360 Front Street in Bath Maine.  I can tell you that when I lived in a small apartment there, that it didn't look like this.  It is now a thriving bed and breakfast.  Somewhere in my picture collection I have a photo of this place.  It was efficiency apartments, so my living room was also my bedroom.  It was in a state of disrepair, but the location was primo as it overlooked the Kennebeck River.  Front Street led to Bath Iron Works the 3rd Largest Shipyard in the country at the time.  
I began writing Part Three of the Story Of Perryton, and have also started Part One.  Here is a preview of that book just in case I don't live long enough to publish it.

                                                           Part Three
 “The future is made up of all the now’s” a wise woman in my head keeps telling me.  I want to believe her in spite of what I see, and what I suspect.  I remember the town when it was vibrant and filled with activity.  The last time I was there it seemed like a ghost town.  Indeed for me, it is a town of ghosts.  When I go there to visit I feel like a ghost.  I feel like I am haunting and intruding on the senseless collapse and decay.  Not enough of us who remember are able to bring it back to life.

The graveyard increases in size while trees diminish.  I remember the town as shady.  Trees cooled us in the summertime, and dazzled us with their color and spectacle in the fall.  And when the trees lost their leaves the gray foggy night sky became a backdrop for Halloween and hunting season.  The wind blew and the naked limbs creaked their eerie protest.  Icy snowstorms left wondrous crystal glistening on the bare branches that shown like diamonds in the filtered sunlight.  I grieve the loss of the trees that I knew in Perryton.  Perhaps the most empowering thing to do in face of that sort of despair is to plant trees for the future.  I have no claim to any part of the land in that town, so planting trees would not only be peculiar, but probably against some law.  I grieve the loss of the people I knew that loved and cared for the town, and the school I attended. My personal abandonment of the town causes me sorrow and a feeling of powerlessness.

What can I do now that would help resuscitate that pretty, lonely little town?  I was long gone by the time that Longaberger basket factory came on the scene.  Everybody put all their eggs in one basket is what I thought at the time and continue to think.  Baughman’s park, changed hands, another golf course, promise of a theme park, and jobs galore.  It happened for awhile.  Perryton was left behind during that time, and out of the big picture of success.  Three miles away Frazeysburg can boast of a active gas station, an IGA, Dairy Queen, Two Banks, Pizza Joint and even a Dollar Store.  Frazeysburg is on the main drag, and Perryton is not.  Fifteen miles north is Martinsburg an Amish town.  It is a tourist destination and its economy is stable.  Perryton could capitalize on some of that traffic and commerce.  I could see a car wash,  gas groceries specializing in local and Amish products.  Hunting supplies, Tractor, and Farm store would do well there.  City hunters who are inexperienced would need to shop there in anticipation of tagging and processing their anticipated trophy.  I could envision a thriving taxidermy business in that town.  The summer should bring pickup trucks full of fresh produce to sell to travelers and townsfolk.  Every town needs a local mechanic, and while we’re at it, a car dealership for those unfortunate souls trapped way out there with an non-reparable vehicle who can afford to buy a replacement. 

Any of this could happen, but will it?  Will it be in time?  Computer jobs, Internet, and keeping up with sedentary tasks will not bring back this town.  Social networking could inspire, but will not do the actual physical labor that would have to be done to bring back Perryton.  Small town America is also in collapse.  The wholesome landscape of these towns are slated for Fracking, and depleting what is left from the days of the oil boom.  Inevitably the water (The Big Engine) will be contaminated.  Methlabs are the modern version of the bootlegging days.  The soulless beings that participate in Crystal Meth only add to the momentum of this erosion and rapid collapse.  Indeed, they are tearing the place down, faster than it could be rebuilt!  Perryton still stands, only a whisper of what it once was, and a promise with much work of what it could become.

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