Visionings first step
By SALLY TALAGA
I recently took a day trip to my childhood home in northern New Jersey and it made me appreciate anew my adopted home of Wayne County, PA. The closer I got to my destination, the greater the number of cars on the road, and the faster they were traveling.
When I was growing up in the 1950s, a divided two-lane (each way) highway was the scariest road I had to deal with in driver education. Now, in its place are six lanes, jammed each way.
My trip put the stop-and-go traffic on Main Street in Honesdale during certain times of the day and year into perspective.
Scientists have determined animals need a certain amount of darkness and quiet to be healthy. But like so many things in our lives, we dont notice gradual decreases or increases. We adapt to new levels, up to a point. Over the last 15 years, Ive been working almost daily at the Wayne County Historical Societys main museum and library. Main Streets traffic noise, as verified by PennDOTs traffic studies, has gradually increased. Ive barely noticed. But, when there is a sudden increase or decrease, as during my recent trip, I recognize the difference.
For the past 23 years living in Honesdale, Ive looked out my front porch and seen beautiful farmland devoid of any lights except the occasional tractor working beyond sundown. Now, the beautiful trees silhouetted against the sunset are overpowered with lights that look more like an airport runway than a driveway.
The amount of open space, devoid of any visible changes made by man, was less and less as I approached my destination. Anywhere USA is a phrase I first read years ago in Historic Preservation magazine. It described the seemingly endless fast food and chain store businesses which line our nations highways. The more our countryside looks like Anywhere USA the less unique it becomes; the less desirable it becomes to visit and stay. Although Wayne Countys highways are looking more and more like Anywhere USA, Wayne County still has open space that needs to be preserved.
This brings me to our areas unique historic architecture and its accompanying way of life. The more we maintain our historic buildingsrather than tear them down and/or build newthe more we retain our uniqueness.
Anyone with money can build a starter castle or a big showy new house in the middle of a cornfield. But not everyone can own a well-maintained Queen Ann Victorian in North Main Street Historic District, where people walk their dogs, talk to neighbors and feel a real sense of community.
Any businessperson with money can build a new store along a highway in the middle of nowhere. But not every businessperson can locate on Main Street in Honesdale or Main Avenue in Hawley and be a part of a business community that has been established since the 1820s.
Visionings first step is to think about what we want for our community. If we dont or dont tell our elected officials, someone else will decide for us.
[Sally Talaga is director of the Wayne County Historical Society. She has lived in several locations and traveled extensively enough to know that Wayne Countys way of life is worth preserving.]
This bi-weekly feature is part of a visioning initiative to engage citizens in a valley-wide discussion about the future of the Upper Delaware River Valley. If you are interested in contributing to this column, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 845/252-7414. For more about visioning, visit upperdelaware.com.