Party in the Park
ASHS Column for 10 20 05
Those of you who missed the Party in the
Park on the 8th missed a rollicking good
time. By that I mean there was something for
everybody - 16 funky Model A's for nostalgic
viewing and even riding in their rumble seats;
entertainment by cloggers, dancers, twirlers,
and the great Dixieland Jazz band; meeting
three authors and having them autograph their
books for you; learning more about the Sons
of the Confederacy; shopping for craft items
and railroad memorabilia; and pigging out on
the scrumptious barbecue and hot dogs.
The fellowship, while enjoying the beauty of the
Park, and the tours of the three museums truly
provided that "something for everybody."
We want all of our workers to know how much their efforts were appreciated. Especially, we thank Mr. Paul Lee of B and J Meat Processing for his generous donation of the smoked meat. Those who bought our merchandise and those who made financial donations made it possible for us to continue our efforts to bring our steam engine, #100, back to Century. This seems like an impossible task, but with the support of engine lovers from all over the area, we still believe this can be accomplished, so many thanks to all of you who share the dream.
We can't let this opportunity pass us by to thank Eddie McCaw for cleaning up the dreadful mess near the Boxcar museum. What a good neighbor! And kudos to Anne Anderson for giving us a feature in the Lifestyle section of last week's paper.
On a different note, I read an article in the PNJ this past week about an ethnic group in Guatemala who refused help after their village was wiped out by a mudslide. They resisted the help because of unfortunate past experiences with outsiders and feared they would no longer be able to maintain their culture. They struggled to reconcile the demands of tradition that requires that bodies be recovered and buried exactly 24 hours after dying when they couldn't even find the bodies in the mud. Experts advised them not to dig any more because of the danger that the still-soaked earth could collapse again. The community leaders then asked that the area be declared a cemetery.
This tragic story made me think that, on a lesser scale, many communities decide to become cemeteries after unfortunate circumstances hit them. Even Century had its funeral (in the minds of some people) after the demise of The Alger-Sullivan Lumber and Sawmill Companies closed. Without work, people lost hope and moved away, but you know what, the town refused to die. I do not know of any Herculean effort on the part of any one individual to save the town, but it is still here - maybe because a lot of individuals like it here and sense that one day, like the South, "Century shall rise again."
This also reminds of another thought I had after reading Tony Simmons' new book, "Welcome to the Dawning of A New Century." It seemed to me that like so many people who can't wait to grow up and leave the old hometown, he has a sort of love-hate relationship with Century. He certainly has a tremendous vocabulary and employs it well, so if you missed buying his book last week there is still time to get one.
And then, there is Ethel McKinley's book, "The Mind Still Sees, The Heart Remembers," with its universal appeal through the throes of growing up and trying to understand how everything works. She speaks of Oak Grove. There are no shopping malls or anything commercial there. It does have a cemetery, but it isn't one. It is a place that is much-loved by those who dwell therein.
I guess what I think that the business of keeping track of history can do is to teach us that we can not exclude all outsiders in order to preserve our own narrow ways of life. Small towns do not have to become big cities, nor do they have to become cemeteries. Sometimes they are special havens in the bustling world.
If you haven't joined The Alger-Sullivan Historical Society get thee to a meeting on the 3rd Tuesday of any month and help us commemorate the history of our area.