Thursday, February 16, 2017

Where is Walmart?

When we walk the streets of Port Townsend, it is easy to see the past. It really does not take much of imagination to picture it as it was in 1889 when the dreams of an enthusiastic community forever changed the skyline of this fair city. There are other towns between Port Townsend and the Pacific Coast, but none has worked harder to keep shadows of the past alive.
Sequim has slowly churned up its empty fields and sown the seeds of strip malls and fast food joints. What was once a two lane road through a sleepy downtown is now four lanes of progress and off ramps that funnel you into shopping centers without character. Port Angeles with row upon row of treeless lots with non-scrip houses set back from the sidewalk looks no different than other towns of the same size. Driving a giant grid of blacktop that takes you to your destination, but with nothing to see and wonder about. One block looking like the next.

Our past is still alive
Port Townsend offers something a bit different. You can't drive uptown without going up and down hills and twisting lanes. I dare you to find a block where every lot or every house looks the same. From small two bedroom average looking to old Victorian mansions, Port Townsend has it. I have nothing against the little house with the chipped paint, and moss covered roof, even they add character to Port Townsend. The large houses with all windows and white trim to the small house with a sag to the roof show the ebb and flow of good times and bad the City of Dreams have gone through. We did not erase the past with wrecking balls to make room for cookie-cutter lots that all look the same.

When I hear a complaint that Wal-Mart is so far away, or Port Townsend needs an (insert box store here), I say move. Move to where the ordinary is the norm. So many towns have changed because people moved to them and wanted what they left behind. Most that move here because we are so "quaint" or "lovely" want to keep it that way. Sure, there are some that want to see change, but there are more of us that want to keep it the way it is. I sometimes miss the convenience of shopping at a big store surrounded by... wait for it... more big stores. What I don't miss, is the plain buildings, the dull neighborhoods and the masses of people rushing from one stoplight to the next. Everybody in a hurry to wait.

We used to be called the City of Dreams. That place where many had visions of railroads and shipping. A town filled with commerce and money flowing from fountains for everybody to dip their cups into. They dreamed of progress and built this city from the ground up with an eye to the future. A future that we don't live in now. If those that laid the foundations of
this town achieved what they were after, we would be living in what looks like Seattle now. I for one am glad they failed. I honor them for what they built and take significant pride in saying I live in Port Townsend, and I would not be able to do that if things would have gone as planned. We are not that far removed from those that envisioned a city paved in gold. Some of us can even point to our grandparents and say they helped create where we live today. Now it is our turn to create and to drive the steam engine of progress into our future.