Grumpy Old Men

Felton Covered Bridge has not changed much in the last half century or so. The new roof looks very much like the roof that was replaced. The extensive repair of damage caused by the flood in 1982 is difficult to discern from original materials and technique. A picture that my Pa took of my siblings and I in the southwestern window of the Bridge when I was just a little tyke, and too short to see over the sill, demonstrates that the particular window looks the same now as it did half a century ago. In fact, much of Felton looks somewhat as it did back then, or is at least somewhat recognizable.

Other towns have not been so fortunate, or unfortunate, according to perspective. Some of us perceive change as an asset or improvement. Others perceive it as a loss of original assets. Both perceptions are both variable and accurate; as well as variably accurate. In other words, some change is good, but other change is bad; and we each assess it by our own distinct standards.

My colleague in the Los Angeles region appreciates how Los Angeles and some adjacent towns have developed since we were kids. West Hollywood, which was quite shabby when it incorporated in 1984, has since developed into quite a ritzy community. Watts, which we still remember as a neighborhood to avoid, is now getting to be hip and trendy again, and one of the better regions in which to invest. The skyline of downtown Los Angeles is spectacular, and comparable to older big cities of the East.

Unfortunately, so many of these improvements have made the region less ‘livable’ for those who do not earn more than average income. Those who earn what had been average income can no longer afford to live there. Homelessness has consequently become overly common, as it has in Santa Cruz County.

My colleague, I and the rest of our generation have been around for half a century. That is quite a while. Things change significantly in that much time. There have been many changes that we are displeased with; but there are many that worked out quite nicely. People who are young now will experience the same during their next half century or so.

When I consider what my ancestors, and particularly my colleague’s ancestors, contended with in their first half century, as well as afterward, I realize that I should not complain. They experienced change that I can not comprehend, both good and bad. Although I can remember when less than half a million people lived in San Jose, my great grandparents remembered when San Jose was a relatively small town of about 20,000 residents, and all the unpleasantries associated with such extreme urban development afterward. Although my colleague down South still encounters mild racism on rare occasion, his father, who is of African descent, began his career as an attorney during the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, and even as he served as a Judge for Los Angeles County, endured racism and discrimination that younger people can not comprehend. Obviously, earlier generations endured much worse.

Society continues to evolve. Although it is unlikely that homelessness will be remedied any more efficiently than primitive racism has been, the presently extreme rate of homelessness must change. Society can not continue in such disgrace.

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