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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Gray Matter: Welcoming progress

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Exciting things are happening in our small town.  Until now I have only been hearing of new businesses starting up, of new houses being built and old ones renovated, but suddenly the activity has arrived right next door. 

A  house is being built on the lot next to mine.  Enormous trucks and earth moving machinery lumbered in.  The most imposing rig boasts a sign indicating it is of oriental manufacture.  How about that -- "global marketing" right outside my window.  It may be high tech stuff, but most of it still looks like pre-historic dinosaurs to me.  The precision with which the operators manipulate these monsters is amazing.

This all reminds me of the building surge right after WW II when we first  moved here.  At that time everything was pasture across the street from us.  A big older home stood at the north end of the block and a garage being used as a temporary residence was at the south end.  So we watched the construction of all the houses in between. 

Those basements, dug with scrapers and wheel barrows, took forever.  Today's crew, with its foreign-born behemoth, got the job done in less than two days.  Local carpenters in past times would then take over.  Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that was even before the ready-mix trucks, so the cement for basements and foundations was all mixed on site.   Now,  I can't really tell you what's going on.  With what looks like styrofoam forms and cement pumped by another prehistoric monster, even bigger than the first,  the basement is all but finished in these few days.

I won't even hazard a guess as to what happens next.  Long ago they would frame up the house, and that took quite a while.  With their modern magic I wouldn't be surprised if the guys I'm "supervising" from the window beside my desk might just wave a wand to put a house in place.  How times have changed !

As I think back over the years, I almost regret the way modernization has deprived the children.  Those earlier methods provided the neighborhood with endless evenings of clod-throwing battles and games of King of the Hill.  Then, when the houses were framed up, it was time for the dare-devil climbing we mothers dreaded.  Happily, there were no casualties.

That is no longer possible.  Sites are surrounded with dire yellow caution tape.  All sorts of safety precautions and, I suspect, the threats of law suits seem to keep today's kids inside playing video games, unless they are engaged in an adult-supervised activity. 

Maybe our modern innovations aren't entirely for the best, after all !

            Well, I'll try not to dwell on that, or the fact that my lovely view of Holy Name Church is going to be limited.  I'm sure I will still be able to see the steeples and hear the lovely bells.  It's a small price to pay for the progress we're enjoying, particularly when we stop to consider the fate of less fortunate small towns that are fading into oblivion.