The post WWII baby boom required lots of new housing for new families, hence the once-farm, now suburban neighborhoods. My earliest years were very happily in one of the first: Levittown, PA. It serviced both Philadelphia, and Trenton, where my Dad worked.
It was called a “boom” for a reason – lots of kids all within a few years. We had five in seven years, and I am the youngest. So mothers – including ours – required that summertime be spent outdoors: “Go take your little brother out and find something to do…”
They did, and it often involved exploring — if a bike or skate was fixed, or if my sister’s new “belly board” would go “real fast” down the steep sidewalk out front, without the attached skate wheels staying on. And being the budding engineers and teachers that they were, they of course needed someone smaller and lighter to be the test pilot, so they could observe their experiments. “Hey Stuartie, come here for a minute…”.
So I would learn that rocks, trees and concrete sidewalks really are immovable objects, and that itchy scabs-on-knees were a natural occurrence to be compared to your buddy’s at recess.
Back to the wreck.
So one of the offending siblings would deposit this tattered test pilot with Mom in the kitchen, then – of course – run away. I would tearily approach her as she was cooking or dish-washing (what else would a mother be doing?) with those famous words: “Mommy, I have a boo-boo.”
She in turn, once she had scanned the room for a kid to punish and finding none, would do four things (with her wet hands): Show her love with a hug, wash out the cuts (ouch!), put that purple stuff on the cuts with a Q-Tip (OUCH!), put on the required Band-Aid, and end her surgery with the reassurance that the boo-boo would be “better than ever.”
This blog will be about fixing boo-boos. Not the skinned-knee type, but the once-proud wounded buildings, sites, parks, and places in our communities that once had purpose, beauty – and TLC, but which are now feeling the effects of sliding along the concrete sidewalk of economic and demographic “hurts.” It is what makes us sad to visit our parents’ old neighborhoods and see the haunts of our childhood in ruin; and what makes us happy and proud when a building is “re-purposed,” when the Band-Aid is pulled off (ouch!) and it really is “Better than New.”
My job in this space on Manchester Ink Link is to bring examples of now-better places, and in my humble opinion suggest why they healed. Your job – distinguished reader – is to bring to my attention places that need healing, and we’ll see if we can suggest realistic Band-Aids.[But no wrecks this time.]
Now for the fun and interactive part. Got a pet eyesore peeve? A vacant building or neglected property in need of fixing?
⇒Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stuart Arnett redevelop hometowns through his company Arnett Development Group in Concord, NH, and is a founding member of the Better Future Alliance L3C, and has served as New Hampshire’s Director of Economic Development. He is the youngest of five sugar-fed boomers.
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