Monday, January 30, 2012

Drive On

We're actually still changing the world, aren't we?

Rick Danko
Hello Marty
My mother was an excellent driver. When I was a youngster my sister lived in Boston and we would occasionally visit her by driving up there from New York. In those days the main highway out of the city was known as the Merritt Parkway. Along the way there were strips of commerce, restaurants, gas stations. motels, shops. Otherwise the scenery along the way was very pleasant. The Merritt passed under many bridges, there were side roads and the evidence of communities near it.

The Marritt Parkway is still there but it has since been replaced as the major road by a super highway, I 91, which runs through Connecticut and hooks up with the Massachusetts Turnpike. It's also surrounded by some very attractive scenery, planted and landscaped to adorn the highway.

As I grew older and made the trip to Boston and back I wondered what had been there. What communities, patches of forest or lake had been removed to make way for the Interstate. Whereas the Merritt had given glimpses of local life along its path, I 90 merely had signs and exit ramps. Whatever was there before the highway was built is gone forever. It can never be brought back.

In the 40s and 50s there was a city planner in New York named Robert Moses who, although he didn't drive himself, saw the automobile as the future of America. He built a major highway in northern New York City called The Cross Bronx Expressway. If you drive down it you will see on either side apartment buildings. In order to build that highway, many blocks of apartment buildings had to be torn down and a huge trench carved into the ground. A great many people had to be removed from their homes and neighborhoods. People who could walk a few blocks to their doctor's office or their favorite shops could no longer do that. There are pedestrian bridges that cross it, but not many. The buildings, homes. parks, neighbors, lives are all gone now and will never be returned.

New York City changes so fast that there's a joke which says that if you turn your back on it for one day they have torn down one building and put up a bigger one.

No one would deny those two highways and others like them all around the country make travel faster and easier for the motorist. The unfortunate thing is that no one can remember what was there. It is forever gone from sight and memory.

Progress and development is taking place all over American to provide better transportation and housing. Forests are being cut down, bays and wetlands are being filled in, mountain tops are being leveled. And all the while changes are taking place in the American people. We have become a nation of the convenient, the instantaneous and the forgetful. Instant coffee, fast food, immediate entertainment, instant gratification. What is gone about us that will never return?

In his epic poem John Brown's Body, Stephen Vincent Benet wrote about the mountains, the people and things that are gone

They are our last frontier.
They shot the railway-train when it first came,
And when the Fords first came, they shot the Fords.
It could not save them. They are dying now
Of being educated, which is the same.
One need not weep romantic tears for them,
But when the last moonshiner buys his radio,
And the last, lost, wild-rabbit of a girl
Is civilized with a mail-order dress,
Something will pass that was American
And all the movies will not bring it back.

DB - Vagabond Journeys
Never Give Up
This invitation is still open for anyone and everyone to post an entry of their own on my journal, Vagabond Journeys

A new year is upon us and since it is a time for celebrations, remembrances, resolutions and plans for the future I think people have things to say.

Not to take away from the postings on your own journals, but to add to the joy of my own is why I invite you to write for me.

I want to read what your thoughts are about this magical time of the year. This invitation is open to everyone: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, Agnostics, Atheists and the Uncertain or the Confused. Tell me your thoughts on any subject you wish.

There are no limits in regard to length. The only limitation is that, for reasons so far unexplained to me, my blog does not take photographs, animations, videos or pictures of any kind. I deal in words.

Please accept my invitation. Send your entry to my email address I will copy and paste it into my journal and it will be displayed promptly. You may sign your name or not as you wish, and you may leave a link to your blog or your email or not, as you wish. I will do NO editing or censoring. Eloquence is not necessary, mind or heart or both is all.

I have 13 Guest Authors so far. Check them out.
All are welcome. Admission is free.

DB - The Vagabond

1 comment:

Beth said...

Sometimes when I'm outside on our property, I like to wonder what it was like a couple of hundred years ago...shortly before Indiana became a state. I think this was a pretty swampy area, so it was probably mostly left to the various wildlife inhabitants. It's interesting to think about.