Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I Miss Them: Opinion

Does it change who we are; this change in municipal classification? Is it really just a change in government structure or does it go deeper than that? Or is this new name a reflection of the change that has already taken place in our community?

I remember the swift correction that would follow anytime someone mistakenly called Ruston a “city” in my early years here. There was a pride in being different from the big city around us. We didn’t mind shaking our fist at the outside world and being a town in the midst of a city was one way to show that. “We are a town, with a capital T, thank you very much. Just you remember, we are different, not like those uppity know-it-alls out there."

I miss that spunk. It got us in trouble a time or two. And I fought hard over the years to encourage our leaders to act professionally and portray the town with dignity. But I miss that willingness to stand out, to be different – to not have to be the same or better than the others. Just be ourselves; dirty, scrappy, blue-collar, proud of our history and roots.

I guess my undefined sorrow at this change for Ruston goes deeper than the new designation as a city. So few remain who value our past. There is a shunning of our heritage. The image of the old smelter stack brings shame or makes us cringe. We want to pretend we are better than our forefathers, that somehow we are smarter and more sophisticated.

I wish my new neighbors could meet Ike, or Doc, or Buck, or Pete, or Loretta, or Owen and Tim, or Mary Joyce, or Tommy, or Lucille, or Phil, or Norma and Clint, or so many countless others. Quirky. Stubborn. Proud. Outspoken. Faithful. They’d let you know if you were wrong, but defend you to their dying breath if need be.

They built their homes with their own hands, then turned around and helped their neighbor do the same. They stood their ground when they believed they were right. They held bake sales to raise money for the fire department. They fought and loved and built this Town from the ground up.

Somehow they managed to survive with all the restrictions that come with being a Town. They didn’t need the right to a referendum. They talked to their elected folks and got things changed; or found a way to live with it if it couldn’t be changed. The mayor didn’t need veto power. We survived without a hearings examiner or parks department. Smaller and less sophisticated was ok – preferred even.

I guess its water under the bridge. I can almost see Owen shrugging his shoulder and muttering something under his breath, but he’s straighten up and move ahead regardless. And Mary would say her peace loud and clear, then dig in and get the job done. So I’ve said my peace now. Let’s get to work building the best little city we can.


Tom Aldrich said...

I was sad to hear about changing the classification of Ruston to a "noncharter code city". Just doesn't have a good ring to it "... noncharter code city". I much preferred "the Town of Ruston" - now that has character. I was fortunate to watch the Town of Ruston transform itself through the 1990's and into the 21st century. The resident's fought fiercely to preserve the Town's identity. Something precious seems to have been lost, but I wish the best for the Town that I so fondly remember.

Beth said...

Those names ring a really special spark to my heart and always will because I was influenced by that awesome era. The Town of Ruston will always be in my vocabulary!

I also will always respect our history and independance as a Company Town grown from the Industrial Age.

Don & I purchased our business and moved our family to Ruston in 1983 believing the Smelter employees and Town residents would be our customers...things changed big time in 1985.

We coped and evolved with that change through conversations with many of our neighbors. Each of the names you mention influenced us in some way to what we are today ~ not with out challenges mind you.

I honestly believe we will continue to evolve in a positive way as our Town/City continues to change and grow...IF WE ALL stay involved.

Never let change dis-engage you ~ please stay involved and strong in your opinions and needs.

Just my thoughts tonight...

....Yes, I do miss the days when my neighbor could look in a construction hole and give the nod that he was as good as a gold star and I do miss the simplicity of that!

Jim Wingard said...

wasnand One lawyer in town was too many but three changed it forever. There are additional changes in store with the advent of Point Ruston and in ten years or so we may not even recognize what is left of the Town of Ruston. Family lived in Ruston over 100 years and I have seen and documented most of the changes.
Will try to do more.