Oct 18, 2012

New York Times and Me: Dancing to Roy Orbison on Main Street

    • Retire In Style Blog by Barbara
    • Hillsboro, Oregon
    Small town America simply refuses to die. It could be that it will take the death of the last of "breakfast club members" to actually kill it. Like the old west somethings will change. They always have.

    In the meantime, retirees like me will continue to dance to Roy Orbison in the middle of main street and not fear for our lives. It is what it is!



    From my comment in the NYTs

    Dan Berry writes a column at the New York Times called This Land about the unremarkable corners of small and large towns. He looks at more than just the news...he talks about the people. The latest segment is about Elyria, OHIO. Yesterday Berry wrote about a small restaurant on a Main Street corner called Donna's Dinner. I've never been in Ohio but Donna's sounded just like the main street diner in every small town I have ever known. A place like that was the place I stopped after school to have a coke with lemon or a bowl of ice cream. That was over 50 years ago. Little restaurants have been closing and reopening over and over again since that time. Any given day could the the last day the restaurants will be able to stay open. One mistake and they are gone.
    New York Time Interactive Page here
    Life on Main Street is pretty much the same everywhere in the United States. The main streets in the places I have lived saw the "movers and shaker" meet in their diner over coffee or pie both in the morning or afternoon. They call themselves "the breakfast club" in a lot of places. Politics and the high school football teams will be discussed. This is where coaches are fired, teachers gossiped about, and mayors demoted to figure heads. Communities are shaped in places like Donna's without the town ever realizing what is happening. The "breakfast club" always meets in a quiet back corner booth. Times will change but as long as small towns breed those that will participate in "breakfast clubs" the diners will be around. Only when the last of the morning breakfast club dies and people quit playing western music will that era be gone.  It may be next week or it may be never. Who knows?

    The characters in this story by Berry could have been my neighbors or gone to school in my husband's high school. The Grandmother's that were pregnant in their teens have grandchildren that are pregnant teens. High school ball players are still living off their high school glory, some burned out by drugs or damaged in some other ways. The banker, lawyers and judges don't stand on ceremony...people mix in the red vinyle clad booths. The only hope for these place with high unemployment is the community college or the satellite campus from a distant University. I am talking about Eastern Oregon but the New York Times is talking about Elyria, Ohio. It really doesn't make any difference. It is all the same.

    In the end though, people like you and me, seasoned and experience, know that change is always happening. If we are smart, we will adapt and find a newer version of our home town just so we can feel at home. Lots of us will cling to the important things like good books and friendship and tolerance. We will promote education and dream that technology will only get better. But all that is good and bad in small town American will keep on going...day after day.

    The last paragraph in the story segment called A Promise to Keep Going talks about an old fashioned car show on the main street Donna sponsored with her own money said it all:
    “One more time for Donna,” the bandleader says. “She works very, very hard.” Then, chuckling, he says, “Now get off the stage.”
    The band closes with some Roy Orbison. A fleet of American-made beauties start their engines. And Donna Dove steps down from the stage to melt back into Elyria. (A Promise to Keep Going, NYT, Oct. 17, 2012)
    Don't we all...melt back in the streets of our hometowns? So here's to old cars and to dancing on Main Street to Roy Orbison until the end of time! And we should all wish Donna and her diner the best of luck.  She is going to need it.

    Be well,


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