Wednesday, February 07, 2007

How much has changed in 80 years?

The other night S and I put on our fancy "going to town" duds and made the 2 minute drive over to the multi-purpose room at the local fairgrounds for our small town's annual Chamber of Commerce Banquet...the Chamber's 80th, our 2nd.

This year we arrived WAY early and found a nice pair of unoccupied seats by our neighbor Aunt Helen's niece and her husband.

Wifey and I were the only members of the X-generation at our table, but that's fine with me, since eating with people older than myself normally makes me slow down my dinner consumption rate to a semi-normal pace (Mom always said to eat slowly since it takes your brain 10 minutes to catch up with your stomach).

The dining was decent, the speaker was sportive, my tie went unstained, and I managed to feel full well before my plate was empty, leaving a few bitefuls of spuds, cheesecake, and smoked ham for Ms. Manners.

I spotted many more familiar and friendly faces in the crowd this year which was gratifying and meaningful -- representing the fact that I was starting to develop relationships of substance with people who were total strangers just a very short time ago. Surprisingly, it also put me in a pensive frame of mind, summoning flashes of insecure moments when I realize how far away I am from all that was so familiar to me for so long.

I'm brought out of my faraway funk by my wifely dining companion who pointed out that the 8-page printed program for the evening contains the recorded Minutes from the first Chamber of Commerce Board meeting back in 1927. As I read with deepening interest, familiar names, locations, buildings, and activities started popping out of the 12-point helvetica laser print and into my mind.

I knew these names. I knew these places. I knew these buildings. Some of the issues, however, were fun to ponder.
80 some years ago..
• Mr. Bracken made a progress report on securing a landing place near town for Airships.
• Mr. Martin made a motion that a carnival be obtained for the fair.
• Mr. Angleman moved that we celebrate the 4th of July.
• Mr. Gooden was instructed to order some sugar beet seeds for experiments.
• Letters were read concerning efforts along the main highway corridor to attract more tourists from Canada and Mexico.
• The Chamber, the Board of County Commissioners and Excise Board were urged to appropriate funds to equip peace officers with machine guns and bullet proof vests.

What really struck me was that by looking around the room (with considerable assistance from my elderly dining companions) we were able to identify many 3rd and 4th generation descendents of the very people mentioned in the 80 year old Chamber of Commerce meeting minutes.

Now, 80 years may not seem all that long in the scope of a single families generational flowchart, but it made me think about whether there'll be any of my familial relations breaking bread at the 160th Chamber of Commerce banquet in the year 2087.

If there are, I just hope they have enough sense to eat slowly, and let their brains catch up to their stomachs.

Currently reading: "First into Nagasaki:The Censored Eyewitness Dispatches on Post-Atomic Japan and Its Prisoners of War by George and Anthony Weller.

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