2018-05-26 / Viewpoints

The Old Timer

By Howard ‘Mac’ McDonald

An article about changes in Coudersport and the small towns in the Land of the Endless Mountains was circulating in a publication by the Penn­sylvania Wilds outfit.

Bad economic times leave a mark on small communities and you can’t miss it when you pass through them. I was looking through a column I wrote years ago about the drive Shirley and I took to Olean, N.Y. I shared observations about the small towns and villages we saw on the way.

Despite some of the glowing reports you sometimes read, I do not think things have gotten much better. The article in last week’s Endeavor News about Dresser pulling out of Wellsville is just another example.

One way to measure this is the boom­ing popularity of the yard sale business. Look around the small towns in northern Pennsylvania and you will see yard sales everywhere. You will also see more Dol­lar General stores. That means that more people are looking for bargains.

The one glass plant in Port Allegany is deserted and I have not heard much about the other one that used to be Pierce or Ball. Farther down the road is the shell of the big Ethan Allen furniture factory in Eldred that went down the tubes. Both of those small towns are in a bind.

Potter County lost Adelphia 10 or 15 years ago and you can’t miss seeing the impact of that. Emporium now worries about the future of powdered metals.

Are these communities going to turn into ghost towns? When the unemploy­ment compensation runs out, what are these folks going to do? Some of them can’t seem to face the truth that they need to take a job telemarketing and selling hamburgers instead of sitting home and collecting money to not work.

I wrote in 2010 that trying to think of a solution has given me a brain-busting headache. That is still the case today.

Have you ever been to a ghost town? There is one here in Arizona named Jerome. All that was left after the silver and copper mines were depleted was an old hotel and a couple of small shops that sold things left from better times.

Scars left on that mountain side will be there forever as a reminder of times when things were booming in that town.

Pennsylvania has several ghost towns. I do not know what caused their demise, but I bet it was sad for the people who used to live there.

They could probably see it coming. Some towns I know of that have this omi­nous title are Landon, Hopewell Furnace, Celestia, Barday and Laquin.

History has a way of repeating itself, but I hope that in this case it does not.

June is the month for weddings and a friend of mine has a daughter who is get­ting married.

He was talking about how this was go­ing to set him back a pretty penny. I told him to get the groom aside, slip him a couple of hundreds and buy him a ladder so they can elope.

Last week’s news told of another school shooting and it makes me wonder what the hell is wrong with the young people who would do something like that. When I was 17, all I wanted was a car and a chance to chase girls. That is probably still the case with most of the boys today.

If I had any trouble with a fellow student, we settled it outside and then usually we made up.

My mom and dad used to clamp down on me when I was going haywire. I think their guidance had a lot to do with how my life turned out.

I had a job when I was a junior in high school. I played on the football team and never missed a school dance. When school got under my skin, I would play hooky and get out of Dodge.

For many years, I was on the honor roll. Then I figured out that girls were more interesting than algebra. Our foot­ball coach got me a football scholarship to Tulane University, but I had a good job and turned it down.

They year 1948 was sure different than 2018. Back then, most people were still normal. There was not so much technol­ogy to distract you from living a real life.

The drug of choice was alcohol and it did sometimes cause its share of prob­lems. Marijuana was making an appear­ance, but it was not a big thing. Drugs are an epidemic today and it is stuff that’s a lot worse than pot.

Earlier, I wrote about chasing girls. Yes, there was a time when, with jingle in my pocket and a song in my heart, that I would venture out into the world look­ing for companionship. Not being a real handsome dude, my gift of gab would help me capture some female company.

That all changed almost 68 years ago on Veterans Day 1950, when I met my match and withdrew from the single life.

You just have to shake your head about this outrage some people expressed when President Trump called the terrible MS-3 gang what it is – a bunch of animals.

I was a member of the Democratic Party for many years, but that outfit has become a shell of itself with out-of-touch leaders. If they don’t have the guts to call these “people” what they are, then how can we have any confidence in them to get anything right?

Those gremlins that like to attack my computer picked a bad day to do their dirty work. There was a time when I would have destroyed this big black box, my mortal enemy, but I have taken my happy pill and it will survive to torment me another day.

This attack struck during another of my trips down memory road, so you are fore­warned that this is the path my column will take next week.

This is our oldest grandson’s 43rd birthday. He is a product of Cameron County and was born in St. Marys Hospi­tal. Today, he is a sergeant in the Arizona State Police and an E-8 in the Arizona Army National Guard. He has a son in the U.S. Army and a daughter who is a senior at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. She will be commissioned in the U.S. Air Force.

This is a grandfather’s mark and we are proud of his accomplishments. My grand­son is named after his two grandfathers, who are both USAF retired. My dad’s name is Howard and he was buried on the 19th of May. He was replaced by another Howard on the 19th of May. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. I hope this country survives so my grandkids can enrich its future.

Return to top