While I've spent most of my life in California, (fortunately) I'm not a West Coast native-I came into this world on the opposite side of the country ... upstate New York to be exact. My parents, both of whom are New York natives, decided they'd had enough of the East Coast winters not long after my 1st birthday, ultimately deciding on relocating 3,000 miles away to much warmer climes.
So, despite my California upbringing, up until my early teens, most of my summers were spent in my mom's hometown of Cincinnatus, New York-a small-town community consisting of one gas station (which my uncle owned), one market, and a family run diner, all of which were in immediate walking distance from my home away from home, grandma's house. Among anything, these precious summers taught me what rural blue-collar America was all about. They also brought me to appreciate our country's rich heritage and history. (I truly believe had I never experienced even one of those summers in New York, I wouldn't have come to love Americana like I do now.)
It had been at least 15 years, if not more, since I last visited my old summer retreat. With much encouragement from my mom, that streak was ended this past summer-and on top of that, I brought along my then-5-year-old son. My intention was to give him a taste of the culture that shaped my life ... but that just wasn't going to be the case. Of all the things I'll never forget-like swimming at the community pool, which at some point had been closed and filled-everything but my uncle's service station was long gone. And while my uncle still had his garage, it had been closed many, many years ago. Basically, all that remained were my memories, so my intentions of sharing part of my upbringing with my son were not to be.
Fortunately, I got to see most of my relatives who were vital components in my childhood rearing. Unfortunately, they were now like me-out-of-town visitors-thus the inability to revisit many of the places where my memorable experiences took place. That reality hit me hard, and it also made me look beyond the township limits of Cincinnatus. And the further I looked, the more I saw how little our nation as a whole is preserving its past.
Obviously, we need to ensure our futures, but I don't agree with the asinine approach some people in higher places are not only proposing, but successfully implementing. And as time goes on, it just seems to get worse (the recent election results in California being a perfect example). Because of all this, I'm now embarking on a personal crusade to do everything and anything within my powers to preserve at least some of this country's heritage and history. It may turn out to be a losing battle, but at the very least, I'll have the satisfaction of trying. I encourage all of you to do the same. We have a lot at stake-let's not sit back and watch it all disappear like the cherished places and things of my childhood have.