The gray generation reports

Monday, April 1, 2002

This report comes from coffee-cup conversations of 75-92 years olds: "The timing is wrong; community concern is not strong."

We grew up with the Cobb's ballroom floor, Santa's Castle as our library, the railroad depot as the busiest place in town twice daily when a passenger train went through, and with the Harbor House as our dinner club.

A front page article in the Pilot-Tribune asks the question, "Is Storm Lake's past also its future?" It informs readers the Chamber of Commerce is giving consideration to setting up a non-profit organization to raise funds to purchase and save Storm Lake historical landmarks of yesteryears. Its list includes the Depot, Cobblestone, Santa's Castle and Harbor House.

Presently Storm Lakers show no great interest in worshipping at the altar of our past. With one-third of our population newcomers and another third too young to have any acquaintance with the four buildings the Chamber has in mind, it is understandable why little interest in preserving them is in evidence.

At this point in time Storm Lakers are not looking to its past. They are involved in preparations for an exciting future for the "City Beautiful." With the ever-present threat of terrorism, challenges and opportunities of these days in mind, preservation has been replaced by preparation as their focus.

BV University with its new $26 million science center is leading the way: it is busy raising $13 million to match an anonymous gift of an equal amount. Health delivery service is provided by the BV Regional Medical Center. After a successful local fundraising campaign it is in the beginning stage of a new women's section and remodeling of the hospital. Specialists and clinics com regularly to make use of its "state-of-the-art" facilities.

Storm Lake's school systems are considered role models in dealing with second language and cultural problems of minority newcomers. The community is proud of the academic and extracurricular achievements of its students.

Add to the list Methodist Manor's recent announcement of a multi-million dollar remodeling and refurbishing program to improve its facilities, and Faith, Hope and Charity's plans for handicapped children, and the new Lutheran parochial school, plus the lake preservation long-range plans for a healthy lake... one can understand why we are too busy to look backwards.

We owe the past our respect and should use it as a point of reference as we move into the future. Presently Storm Lake has important historical landmarks like the Harker House, the Arch from Old Main, the log cabin and country school house on the lakeshore. The Buena Vista Historical Society should be given credit for securing, moving and restoring the last two.

This review raises a question, "Why does the Chambe suggest another organization to raise money and secure historical landmarks?" This is the role and responsibility of the Buena Vista Historical Society. This organization's members are serving faithfully and judiciously as keepers of the past and will continue to do so. Those of us who are members and supporters of its projects and outstanding museum are wondering if we are going to be replaced.

Members in the Buena Vista Historical Society are largely from the gray-haired generation who have the time, concerns, memories and money to be good stewards of Storm Lake's and Buena Vista County's past. We see no need for another organization. A comforting thought: our library has back-up local history material on buildings and sites considered to be "landmarks."

God Bless.