November 30, 2006


My first postcard from Mansfield is about Christmas in a small town.

Right after Thanksgiving the town, as they have for as long as I can remember, decorates the downtown with wreaths hanging from the light poles, and strings lights. In the olden days, that’s when I was a kid, it was an annual event, piling the whole family in the car and going downtown after dark and exclaiming over the spectacle. Remember, this was before television, and radio was still king. We weren’t very world-wise, but we were wise to what was good, and this was good. Also in those days, before global warming, it seemed to always be snowing and that added to the sight.

The town has gone through its bad days as have thousands of medium to small towns across the country. At one time Mansfield was a booming industrial town that boasted many plants such as Westinghouse, Tappans, Empire Steel, Dominion electric, Mansfield Tire company, Ohio Brass, and so many more. When the Second World War came, they all converted to war needs. But as it always happens, it finally came to an end when the factories owners decided to look for cheaper labor and they usually headed south. The retail stores at about the same time headed out of the town into malls. Does this sound familiar? The classic ingredients of watching a town die. But I am happy to say after many, many years and many people willing to spend some of their money they have made much headway in clearing out old abandoned buildings or, and this is great, renovating them. Now chic bistros and specialty shops are inhabiting our downtown and it is looking good. It never will be as it was, but it doesn’t look like an abandoned disaster area. It’s a pleasant place to spend some time and hopefully some money.

But for we who were here in the heyday, the forties and fifties, we will always have our memories, as Rick related to Ilsa in Casablanca about Paris, and they are good.

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