Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Remembering "the Grove"

For whatever reason I have been taking little trips down memory lane in recent years. Maybe it's old age, maybe it's reflecting in comparason to current events. Mostly going to one place in time and one particular group of people. At the time I didn't realize the influence that group of people were having on me. Indeed to my peers of that era this group of people was to be despised or worse. We're travelling back to the 1977-79 time frame. Maybe it was my own families economic reality back then. We had just returned from NE Oklahoma. Tails between our legs and pretty much broke. I was in my mid teens and was repeating my freshman year of highschool. Times were tight and if I wanted anything of my own, it was up to me to get a job and get it for myself. Also because times were hard I was expected to pay my parents a portion of my pay towards household expenses. The solution to my problem was the Rochester "Times Union" newspaper.

My dad rented us an apartment north of Rochester on a bay of Lake Ontario. A fairly upscale suburb was developing thanks to the location. My paper route was mostly made up of what we would later come to call McMansions. However right in the middle of it all was a place known as "The Grove". The Grove was a little nieghborhood or community created during the great depression. A landowner about to lose his land leased a bunch of cottage building lots to other people whose economic reality wasn't a whole lot better than his. 40+ years after those leases were created The Grove had evolved into a group of about 12 little houses. It appeared as though the depression never ended  for most of the people living there. I learned quickly appearances don't always tell everything. I also learned poverty can be just a point of view. Frugality and living within your means can appear as poverty to some. I can remeber many cups of hot chocolate waiting for me on cold winters day. I remember being invited in to warm up next to woodstoves. I remember glasses of lemonade in summer, the real deal too, not fron a frozen can or worse a packet of powder. I remember Mr Johnson teaching me how to tune up a car on his 58 Biscayne. I remember being amazed that such a small 6 cylinder engine could even propel such a huge car down the road. I remember bags of tomatoes and other fresh vegetables being sent home with me. I remember Mr Johnsons old johnboat and the motor that bore the same name as his family. I'm sure that motor was almost as old as he was. I remember making extra money splittng firewood for people too old to do it for themselves. Often refusing payment, knowing I would leave with a full belly and/or a mess of fresh filleted fish.  Speaking of payment. I can't recall ever having to chase a resident of "The Grove" for payment for thier newspapers. Sure I remember being asked to collect once a month or biweekly. I always remember that envelope being on time, and more often than not there was a generous tip there too.  I can't say I have any of those memories from the more well heeled customers on my route. Just the opposite.

I have to wonder what the current generation could learn from a place like "The Grove".  Maybe they would decide to pool thier resourses and create a "Grove" of thier own to occupy rather than trying to occupy Wall Street. But alas, it's too late. The occupants of "The Grove" got even older, or moved away and "The Grove" lost it's battle with the McMansion movement.

And that my friends in my oppinion is where we really went wrong.

1 comment:

Gorges Smythe said...

Almost no one these days wants to live within their means, it seems. Folks want it ALL, and they want it NOW!