And, this is why we should see great value in the history all around us, even if those who have lived here for generations take it all for granted.
A neighbor of our vineyard in Mooers once referred to “the four corners” down the street. Of course, almost every intersection has four corners, but everybody who grew up there knew which intersection he meant, even though the “four corners” has never been marked as such.
Old-timers can walk downtown and point to where the big hotel burned down, how streetcars used to ply Margaret and Bridge streets, what used to be in the old Federal Building, and talk all about the nuns who lived in the mansion on Brinkerhoff.
But, visitors don’t know these interesting artifacts, and myriads more.
At a recent meeting of some interested in revitalizing our downtown, SUNY Plattsburgh President Ettling reminded us how Bostonians celebrate their Freedom Trail. I bet not many Boston residents have walked the entire trail, but most visitors have. I, too, have asked why we don’t have such a trail in Plattsburgh, and was told that we do have one, but that we don’t advertise it. Well, if a tree falls in a forest, does anybody hear?
We are really missing an opportunity if we cannot be so bold as to celebrate more of our local produce, our local wines, our local scenery and our local history. You see, it is not about us. It is about offering interesting color to those that visit us. Our visitors and our transplants come here seeking a richer experience. They want to soak up all things local. Sometimes the best we seem to muster is to tell them a story about Champy.
The communities that successfully arrest the rural population drain and attract the best, brightest and most innovative young people who will sustain their futures are those communities that stand head and shoulders above the others. These aspiring communities have nothing on us, but perhaps a strong sense of self. They don’t thrive because they have large businesses. They have large businesses because they think big.