Monday, May 28, 2012

Main Street USA

Watching the Memorial Day parade from my house,
with Michelle and Chase, and some
red, white and blue from my garden. 
One of the nice things about living on Main Street USA, in Sylvania, Ohio, is that there is always something going on.  Today it was the Memorial Day Parade, right down the street where I live, shop, meet and greet.  I sat on our front porch with Michelle and Chase, some friends and neighbors, enjoying the occasion and the comaraderie.

A week ago it was a car show.  Fantastic, sparkling vintage and antique cars. Last  Saturday it was garage sales up and down the street.  "I do these sales for the fellowship," my neighbor Judi said with a smile. She had tons of stuff out for sale and made $50.00.  Not much, I thought to myself,  for all the work.  "Money I didn't have before," Judi said brightly!

On Main Street Sylvania we have vendors hawking their wares, boutiques bringing out summer clothes, the Historical Society selling books and puzzles, art galaries hanging out their art, and restaurants open for business with patio tables and chairs on the sidewalks.  Always a festive air.

This is not the stifling Main Street of Sinclair Lewis' novel, set in 1920s small town Minnesota, or the Main Streets of New England small towns where witches brewed and stewed and gossiped unto death.

It's more in the contemporary Main Street preservation mode, where investments in small businesses, and commitments to combine and create a balance in  residential and commercial living, predominate.  It harkens back to pre-suburban walking communities where everybody knew your name.

It's the real thing. People walk, bike, talk,  face to face, person to person.  People get to know their neighbors, linger, chat, share front porches.  We have tea at the Dragonfly cafe, and musical and poetry evenings; meet for lunch at Chandler's or Jenna's; go for great pizza at the historic J&G's; catch up on news at the new Ace hardware store or the neighborhood RiteAid drug store.  It's pre-suburbia in post-industrial, high-tech America. It's real, not virtual. Low stress, friendly, authentic, simple pleasures with neighbors.

Does the invention of internet communities signal the same dreams for lost American Main Streets?  I don't know, but Main Street USA is surely an anecdote to virtual internet living, as it is to Suburban lifestyles built around large malls, clogged highways, totally dependent on cars.  Maybe we need Main Streets USA more than ever in the fast-paced, quick and impersonal facebook- and email-world of the global village.

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