Downtown Stevens Point Did Not Have To End This Way

The news today concerning downtown Stevens Point may seem good to some people.  But for those that recall what it once was like to walk that downtown street, well, we know the truth.  

I will get to the news that broke today, but first let us take a walk backwards in time.

When I was a boy many….perhaps most….Saturdays were spent in Stevens Point.  That was the place my folks drove to buy groceries, clothes, shoes, and just about anything else we needed.   My grandma called it ‘the ‘Points’, but no matter what it was termed this was the nearest real shopping experience to where I grew up.

I recall how we bustled around and left our Hancock home about 10:00 A.M. and spent the better part of Saturday in the city.  My mom looked forward to ‘getting out of the house’ and into the stores to browse.  As a boy that concept was totally lost on me.  How could anyone be amused by looking at bolts of fabric?  But by the time my mid teenage years hit I fully understood the tug of  browsing, and found wandering around music and book stores great fun.   

Downtown Stevens Point was the place I would sit in the car at times with dad, in this or that parking lot, and listen to the car radio.  It was there at noon we often heard Paul Harvey.  We always waited for the last story that Harvey delivered and then his classic “Good Day!”

In my mind I  can still see the lot across where J C Penney once was, or the side street where my dad would parallel park not far from Montgomery Ward.  He often would look for that location as it was shady during the summer and make the wait more relaxing.  My dad was never a ‘browser’ but instead would read the newspaper or mail that he needed to get caught up with from the week.  Dad often chatted it up with other men in nearby cars that seemed to have the same Saturday occupation as he did.

Main Street was full of wonders when I was old enough to start wandering on my own. It was alive, vibrant, and exciting.   My parents thought it too exciting at the far end where a bevy of bars were located and I was instructed to stay away from that area.  (Like they were going to serve a 16-year old kid?)

So it was not surprising given the wonder of the main street that the local businesses were not gleeful when the idea of a mall soon was all the rage.  I recall that one of the big reasons for such an idea was all the shopping could take place ‘out of the elements’.  Who did not like darting raindrops or seeing the sun as they went from store to store?  I liked the way one went from store to store.  At holiday time many of the stores pumped music out into the streets and the whole place was just like an old-fashioned Christmas Card.

In time the mall was built, and large stores moved in for the dollars that would soon start to flow.  It never quite was the same for the downtown businesses that made main street so wonderful.  The unique quality of the street and the energy from it faded.  Meanwhile the mall was stale and boring from the first day it opened.

Downtown was never the same.

Today comes word that a large portion of the mall will be destroyed.  Long underused, and in foreclosure  it will be repurposed for the Mid-States Technical College.

Yippee!

There will never be another kid living in that area that will be able to reflect back on downtown Stevens Point like I have here tonight.  That is because someone thought the idea of a mall  being bigger, newer, and better was the answer to everything.

Looks like with a technical school there will be more fast food joints and larger trash bins for the future of this once really interesting street.  A street where there once was a store that I loved to go inside with my mom as the wood floors squeaked under me.  (Montgomery Ward)   As a boy I thought that was just pretty neat.

No one will ever again write of nostalgic thoughts about downtown Steven Point.

No Room For Reinterpretations Of National Anthem

OK, I was not going to get sucked into writing about the Super Bowl on my blog.  Readers will note that I stayed away from that topic for the past two weeks.   I truly feel that there is a point of saturation…..and that was reached way before the actual kick-off on Sunday.   Enough!

But I do feel a need to post a quick thought about the singing of the national anthem at the football game, a performance that I did not see, but certainly have heard a lot about this morning.  Christina Aguilera was such a sad moment for the nation that to not comment would be a glaring error on my part.

Look, there is really no room for  reinterpretations of the national anthem.  I do not care who is singing the song.    Put another way there is one….count them….ONE… way to sing the song.  The artist has no….NO….license to make any musical changes to the structure of the song.   

If any of you have been to an event where the need to sing the anthem took place you will agree that it is one of the hardest songs to sing.  If you have someone like…lets say Neil Diamond…..sing the song and hit all the notes perfectly and create the dramatic ending just before the applause fills the arena then I would say all was a success.  There takes nothing more for the song to be a wonderful performance.

The warbling and additional flourishes that Christina Aguilera used at the Sunday football game were just a bad attempt to not have the range required to sing the song.

Granted I do not know much about current pop singers, but from what I have seen this morning, I am OK with that.

Green Bay Packers And Guatemala

This morning a note appeared in my email from a friend who retired from her job and lives for the most part in Guatemala. 

It is 7:15 am and I was puttering around the apartment, making coffee and half listening to the TV morning news.  All of a sudden, I was sure I heard the words “Green Bay Packers.”  My first thought was that I was having some kind auditory hallucination/flash-back.  I turned the look at the screen and, there they were.  A group of Packers, their helmets off, saluting the flag while some woman I did not recognize (but who is undoubtedly famous) was adding unnecessary vocal flourishes to the national anthem in an attempt to disguise her lack of range. 

Even in Guatemala, there is no escaping the Super Bowl. ( I wanted to tell her “Oh, you should be here.”)

Stay warm and keep shoveling,