|Mon, Sep 22, 2014 08:11 AM
|Issue of September 17, 2014
February 12, 2014 | 09:37 AM
I just got off the phone with a friend who was calling from his winter home in Florida, where it's considerably warmer (my ankles are bone cold from working in the draft that flows through my office). During some light social conversation amidst our business, the topic of our destinations for senior winter living came up.
I am often forced to analyze why I stubbornly refuse to leave Indiana for a jaunt in the sunny south. This seasonal condition has, through the years, caused me to analyze what kind of a world I want to live in.
When I first moved to Harrison County as a young bride, it was a far different place than it is today. With only a two-lane, winding road through the Knobs, we were in many ways a self-sufficient, small and provincial rural community. It was a rare and special excursion that took us "up town" to New Albany or Louisville. I traveled that road every day to attend seminary, and it took all the courage and fortitude to wind down those hills on old Highway 62. But if one wanted an upscale dress from a store or had a medical need that demanded a specialist, we made a day of it and took to the road.
Residents of Harrison County were self-sufficient in many ways, but we had far fewer opportunities. It was a big deal when a "dollar" store opened in Corydon and a sign of hope that someone thought we had potential as retail customers. I remember how my children strutted when the Dog 'n Suds opened to join the bowling alley as a hangout for teens.
Our college students in the 1950s were few in number and not many of them moved back home after graduation. When we went to the Corydon town square to shop, we knew the clerks and their family members. Most of us thought that, if they didn't sell a product in our hometown, we probably didn't need it.
In those days, families had only one car and often didn't need to drive it. Those of us who lived in town could walk to most places to attend meetings or purchase items.
There were wonderful things about that old style of living, but there were many limitations.
Gradually, doctors opened offices away from the centers of our communities, and people built homes in the first "suburbs." Interstate highways opened between St. Louis and Louisville and Louisville and Indianapolis. Bridges were added along the Ohio River, Indiana University Southeast expanded and, as the saying goes, the rest is history.
Some of that history includes the establishment of more opportunities for us. Some of it is filled with the ups and downs that accompany development. We no longer know all of our neighbors. We create better educated young people, but many of them can't find jobs here that utilize their newly developed skills. We have more shopping opportunities, but most of our local small merchants have a hard time competing with the large franchise operations. The home offices of many of our service providers are in distant places and are less attuned to our needs. We used to be a very unique area with pride in our culture. Now, we often fall prey to the forces that have produced the "saming of America."
Most things in life are a trade-off; if you get one thing, you probably lose a bit of something else.
I sometimes daydream about what I want to be doing in Harrison County in 10 years. Nothing is static in our fast-paced society, and this place — Harrison County — will keep changing.
In the future, I may not be able to live in my country home because I probably won't be able to drive to the doctor, to see friends or to attend a social event. But if I lived in town, would I be able to get there more easily? I would like to see myself leaving my home, walking or riding my electric scooter to shop for groceries, chat with friends over coffee, explore the options at a variety or drug store and walk home for lunch or a nap. I don't think I could do that anywhere in Harrison County today. Could this be why so many senior citizens go to retirement communities in the South where they can travel in golf carts to the multiple functions provided for them?
I know we can't improve the winter weather, but we can create development in Indiana that will fit the wants and needs of all our citizens, no matter what their age.
What will it take to make this a place that helps us live full lives? Why don't you daydream about what you would like to see yourself doing in 10 years? What must change or stay the same for your vision to become a reality? E-mail your thoughts to Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor and Judy O'Bannon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Together we might get something exciting going. Act as though your future depends on it. After all, it does!