Editorial: The drive for changeFor the old-timers of Two Harbors, it’s hard enough to remember what they had for breakfast, let alone 30 years ago.
For the old-timers of Two Harbors, it’s hard enough to remember what they had for breakfast, let alone 30 years ago. Those were their sentiments in conversations this week, not ours.
As we delved into the past for our story on the city’s own Harold Hill, Bob Williams, enough memories came forth to capture a picture of Williams and the times.
He was far from the con man in “The Music Man.” He made friends, influenced them with his creativity, and left a mark, namely the storefronts downtown with a neo-Victorian look. And he never asked for any money to skip town with.
In a look back at old issues of the News-Chronicle and in aside conversations with business owners from the late 1970s and early 1980s, many of the issues of today were brewing back then.
It seems the trouble with the location of a teen center was settled. “No Gas” signs eventually disappeared.
Jobs scarcity had been the topic for the past decade and more after the railroad left in 1963. It was about to get tougher with the closing of Reserve Mining in Silver Bay looming. With today’s recession, said to be the worst in 60 years, it’s easy to mirror the feeling of unease today with those of 30 years ago.
There were divided camps on creating a direct-access road to downtown from Highway 61. Those sides remain. There was talk of creating a marina in Agate Bay. Today’s actual drawn-up plans are all that separate a marina and the reality of then and now.
And then there were the men and women with shops downtown who took it upon themselves to spruce up their storefronts with the help of designs by Williams. Many of those owners say the effort begun in 1979 would be hard to accomplish today. All we can say is: Let’s see.
Meetings have already begun on complimenting the complete street renovation of First Avenue with tree plantings and other elements to soften things between the businesses. Other talks have dealt with issues like Thomas Owen’s Park and its historic bandshell. The city continues to emboss its Tree City designation with new plantings all around town.
An arts commission, there was one back then as well, looks to be reorganized by the city in March.
These are all good signs that the spirit of 1979 can be restored for projects throughout the city that enhance the living experience.
A driver in both cases, then and now, was in drawing business to the downtown area. But even in realizing that the work did little to stem the further demise of downtown over the years, the owners from back then have no regrets. For some, it was as simple as taking pride in ownership. They regaled in the common purpose and the sense of community.
A side benefit to a nice looking town can be more people coming in to take a look, maybe buy some goods. Perhaps more will move here to fill empty houses and keep the schools filled with students.
But in listening to voices reflecting back this week, you know these were ancillary thoughts.
There’s no dollar measure on the pride they felt in a community job well done.