Archive for Thursday, January 22, 2004

Publisher’s memo: Growth of the community certainly not a negative

January 22, 2004

I thought the message line on the e-mail was compelling: Growing Tonganoxie.

So I opened it.

The note was from Mary (Hanes) Blumenshine, a former Tonganoxie resident. As editor and publisher of The Mirror, it's not unusual for me to receive e-mail messages from people who used to live here. They often like to reminisce about their days here and how much they enjoyed living in Tonganoxie.

Mary was no exception.

But what she wrote disturbed me. Here are some excerpts from her note:

"I was a child when I lived in Tonganoxie. What wonderful memories I had of it, and those long hot summers at the city pool. I felt greatly disappointed in the changes that I read about in your January 14th edition. Maybe all those 'growth spurts' are great for your town ... but they did nothing for my wonderful, safe memories of small downtown Tonganoxie, Kansas. We lived at several locations in Tonganoxie, we were a nomad type of family, and Tonganoxie was a 'rooted' kind of place for me. I remember a one-room schoolhouse and sack lunches. ... I hated hearing that all is corrupted and gone."

I was sorry to read that Mary thought Tonganoxie had gone to pot, simply because a few newcomers had joined the community.

I wrote her back:

"Gosh, Mary, I wouldn't say that all is corrupted and gone. Tonganoxie still is a pretty wonderful place, filled with caring people.

"The one-room schoolhouse has been replaced, but our children are receiving good educations -- both in academics and in life."

Mary now lives in Blue Springs, Mo. She said she remembered the Parsons family. I told her that Earl had died last year, but his daughter, Marilyn, was living in Leavenworth.

Mary apparently is no longer living the nomad life she referred to in her original note and says she has happily settled down in Blue Springs. I'm so pleased that she has carried so many pleasant memories of Tonganoxie with her.

The fact that she has is a testament to small-town life and it underscores how important it is for Tonganoxie to maintain the flavor of a small town, while the inevitable growth comes our way, like waves to the beach.

But unlike pebbles of sand, all that's good about our town doesn't have to be swept away with the current.

Growth shouldn't erase anything from our community. It should provide us the tools to enhance what already is here, to build on the good qualities of our community.

Those newcomers have arrived in town because they want to be here. They want what we have. And why shouldn't they?

We can't close the doors to Tonganoxie. Instead, we should ensure that they're open and that we all greet those newcomers with open arms.

We should embrace growth and mold it so that it makes us an even better place to live, work and play.

If a community doesn't grow, if it doesn't change, it will die.

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