Friday, July 30, 2010

The Present Formerly Known As

Speaking of locations, there is always the assumption that you know the geographical history of our town. Visitors are often confused. When they ask for directions, they find local citizens very happy to help, however there is often a failure to communicate. And, we are not talking about a language barrier or even a problem due to our accent.

For instance, if someone was coming into town from the interstate and asked for directions to the middle school. They would get something like this, "Well, go down this road, and as you come into town and get to the old K-mart you are going to turn left at the stoplight. Go 2 lights and at the old Food Lion turn right. Now you will pass the Old Mall on your left. Just pass the next light, the school will be on your right. You know that used to be the high school."

Now, that visitor would have some issues here since K-mart moved from that original location 15-20 years ago and to confuse matters, is around the corner. There is no Food Lion, it left years ago, and left no evidence it was ever there. If they ever get to the "Old Mall" their ignorance will serve them well because even locals are having issues with this. Seems that what we call the "Old Mall" is really the "New Mall" because that property was abandoned twenty-something years ago when they built the "new" Mall on the by-pass. However, recently the "old" Mall has been redeveloped so it is now the "New Mall" and we are not quite sure what to call the old "new" Mall.

When the 911 emergency system was implemented the city and county had to certify the names of all the roads. That meant that some roads and streets that had had traditional local names for years suddenly had "official" titles. I can remember a friend of mine laughing that her family had "moved up in the world." Their address had changed from "Wannamaker Pond Road" to "Longwood Drive." It was bit confusing (and still is.) It would have been a lot simpler, if the powers that be, had just asked someone on every street (if they didn't already know), "Excuse me Mam, but what is the name of this street?"

And, jeez, they went out of their way to make it convoluted. Please explain why "Cherry Street" had to be renamed "Cherrywood Lane". And, with the long road that follows the river, appropriately named "Riverside", the powers that be, decided that that little quick turn around a block as the road came into town was confusing. I'm not sure, confusing to whom. Everyone in town had been using the road for years and I never saw anyone miss that turn. But, oh no, the road is now divided right there into 2 different streets - "Riverbank" and "Riverside". Official, or not, God help the out of towners asking directions.

I would imagine some sociologist, after doing a study of our town, would report that we live in the past. It's not so much the past, as it is the land marks of our lives. In today's fast times, it is comforting to hold onto something (even if it is just memories of days gone by.) We are all about tradition. Some would say we are just old dogs and these are new tricks. Perhaps the new street signs should read "Cherrywood Lane formerly known as Cherry Street".

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