Friday, January 15, 2010

"Hey, Hey, throw 'Em away!"

I wrote my last blog about the late Jan Gabriel, the man who gave us "SUNDAAAAYYYYY, Sundaaay, Sunday!". I first heard that phrase on a commercial for US 30 dragstrip near where I grew up. It got me thinking on yet another tangent, about how we acquire things in life, only to discard them.

US 30 was a HUGE deal back in the 1960's. It was a mecca for not only racers, but spectators. Admission wasn't terrible, and we could afford to attend the races there without a problem. In fact, we could race our own cars there if we had the right equipment for safety! Over the years, thousands attended the races each season, yet after a while, the commercials went away, and we forgot about the track. It was just a memory, no doubt turned into yet another strip-mall in the suburban jungle.

Then, one day during a conversation with a friend, we were remembering our days at the track, when he mentioned "you know, it's still there"! This got my curiosity going, thinking I had to see the track one more time in all it's glory. Extensive searching of Google Earth finally showed me where the site was, and one Saturday morning, we left out to find it. It's still there, overgrown and decaying, but it still exists. No one had bought the site, nor cared for it, and it sat there, a sad remembrance of our past.

Upon moving to Arkansas, I found another major attraction that was left to decay. Dogpatch (later Dogpatch USA) lies just South of Harrison Arkansas on Highway 7. A once thriving attraction, drawing people from all over the country, it sits sullenly clinging to the side of a hill, just waiting to rot into dust. Investors were reported to have spent 26 million dollars to get the park up and running, yet by 1993, it closed, never to re-open. It's there today, as if it were poised for the new season, but overgrown and decaying. I have to ask, who would walk away from an investment of that magnitude? As hard as I've had to work for my money, I couldn't imagine owning something, and then walking away from it. It just seems so wasteful! Land is expensive, and to own land is part of the American dream. Who in their right mind would just walk away?

I guess it's reality, as over the past few years, I've seen way too many abandoned homes and businesses here. People just walk away from their hopes and dreams, and leave them to decay. I 'm amazed at this, and find it hard to understand. Everything has to be worth something, to just leave it seems wasteful.

Look at the town of Rush, Arkansas.
That's the General Store\Post Office in the photo. It's now owned by the National Park Service, but the buildings that are left, were just abandoned by their owners, as the town declined. It's hard to believe that the hard work and money required to buy the land and build the structures, is not important to the former owners.

I guess the real reason for this blog today, was to focus on just what a "throw away society" we've become. Don't need it? Just toss it and get something else! It all boils down to the fact that many people have (or seem to have) an unlimited supply of cash to do what they wish with. If something doesn't work, or work the way they want, it's forgotten as they move on.

So where is this blog going? Well, the last time we were up in Branson, I couldn't help but notice a growing number of vacant buildings along the strip. Signs still graced the properties, calling to visitors, yet the shops themselves were empty, abandoned by their owners. I wonder how long before Branson becomes another Dogpatch, or worse yet, another Rush?

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