Sunday, September 13, 2015

Anchored Dreams (1815 - 2015)

Europeans used muscled shoulders and arm strength
To paddle swift river waters upstream against the current,
Their sea journey, fully filled of fear, behind them now,
Sought beyond today, each tomorrow filled their dreams.

For eons, horizons were only seen by those in tribal dress,
Moccasin soft foot prints rarely compacted moist river soils,
But tracked those wilds along animal trails long of overuse.
Clash of cultures, lasting many Centuries, will this never end ?

Hamlets developed, adventurers weary of always on the move
Needed to settle, they chose a confluence of river and creak,
Like the Schuylkill where it accepts the Manatawny, was obvious.
Strong muscled flow of water harnessed to drive great stone wheels.

Grist millers needed farmers, both needed haulers and users.
In its infancy, communities struggled, seeking strength to endure.
A countryside full of families with hamlets of extended members
Were not communities; they buried their own, needed no preacher.

When people no longer did personal items for themselves,
Services were rendered by others : a barber, baker, butcher,
storekeeper, a preacher, and at the end of life, a grave digger.
Commerce erupts as people sell their time for a tradable sum.

Those engines of service got travelers to settle down in a pleasant,
Hospitable community. The need for organization became apparent
And was met by the Potts Family who formulated a town on paper.
They named it Potts Grove until it officially became Pottstown in 1815.

Shaken by a Revolution, she survived a Civil War, participated in
The First World War, and was seared by The Great Depression.
By then an engine of economic muscle, Pottstown spearheaded
A home front industrial movement, carrying USA thru World War 2.

The last seven decades, post WW 2, horrific turmoil was everywhere :
Korea, Vietnam, harnessing nuclear proliferation, the The Twin Towers,
Then quickly : Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, today, Iran's the problem.
Pottstown grew to 32,000 citizens, but now back down to 22,000.

From afar the World churns, but here, churning occurred from exodus:
Bypasses took cars, malls took people, and factories took employees;
Suburbs attracted home owners, professionals sought lower taxes.
Once the epicenter of industry and commerce, Pottstown left a shell.

White flight, green flight, religious flight followed each to the suburbs.
Left behind : the poor, indigent, and needy, all struggled to pay taxes.
Pottstown became a victim of Montgomery County's prosperity.
Once the engine of financial muscle, weary Pottstown limped on.

Community is a dream of people who can afford purchased services
While residing in an inhabitance close enough to easily access them.
Government needs to spend its energy on accommodating both.
This age old formula has worked as long as people gathered together.

In a changing World, a community is just like a canary in a mine ; it
Reflects change: change of weather patterns, of life styles, of policing,
Of services, and of social mores. It is a composite of the current ones
Who reside here. Communities are dynamic, they pulsate, are alive.

Pottstown is becoming established as a "College Town", a place
Where knowledge matters : our dynamic public school system, and
Wyndcroft, The Hill School, The Montgomery County Community
College. "A mind is too valuable to waste" is a Pottstown motto !

At one time, through Pottstown, a "north only" railroad operated,
No schedule, no tracks, just the trodden few seeking freedom's trail.
We have exhibited a resilience equal to the grit of our storied citizens.
Today, we'll hear from some of them, words of old, at rest many years.

Thank You,

Ronald C. Downie

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