The benefit to growing up in a small town is you have a greater sense of what it means to call some place your “hometown” than most people. It’s the place from which you confidently struck out your first step into the real world to make a name for yourself. If that kind of thing was important to you. For some of us, we first learned to appreciate pride in our community the moment we adorned the name of our town across the chest of our high school sports jersey.
We are our hometown. Our hometown is us.
The disadvantages of growing up in a small town mirror the advantages. Everyone knows your name, and your business, so it’s best to keep your nose clean. A youthful perception is nothing changes. Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder penned a song about an elderly woman who changed “by not changing, at all.” Instead, allowing the rest of the world around her to change with time.
There’s an idiom associated with Time. In fact, there are as many sayings attached to Time as there are ways the Inuit describe snow. The longer we live, the more often we find ourselves battling with Time. Fruitless battle, nonetheless, as the winner is predetermined. But, spend enough days under the same zip code, one day you’ll be able to identify the corn fields and dairy farms underneath each manicured lawn and 2,500-square foot home.
Colonie residents found themselves reminiscing about Engle Farm several months ago. Last week, Bethlehem residents blinked and lost Sandy Creek Farm — more specifically, the iconic 80-year-old barn that stood along Wemple Road in Glenmont.
It wasn’t long ago that once you crossed south over the Route 32 By-pass, you surrounded yourself with corn fields. Those few houses along Feura Bush Road stood there long before anyone you knew — including those who could earnestly call themselves “Old Bethlehem.” In recent years, Wemple Road served as a microcosm for what was happening to rural America. Where woods neighbored the expanse of a family farm, townhouses and cal-de-sacs began to crop. That red, wooden barn with the tin metal roof stood defiantly against Time. A reminder to Decoration Day festivities, bridge parties at your neighbors’ and the 4H Club at the high school.
Of all the people who shared their thoughts over seeing Sandy Creek Farm disappear, one feeling was expressed over all else. Sadness. The stories we have that tie us to this town lose their landmarks. Bethlehem Town Councilman David VanLuven said it best, if we wish to preserve the open space we have remaining, landowners need options, some form of investment needs to be made. The assumption that something shall remain as it is today is a passive protest against change.
Change is constant. It’s been predetermined.