Monday, December 6, 2004

Small Towns

Apropos of yesterday’s posting about the efforts in Ohio to revitalize Main Street, here is a story of another small town that faces a tough future.

Northport, Michigan, was where I spent part of my summer for every year of my childhood. From 1959 to 1975 I spent at least a month in a little community of summer homes and cottages near this town on the tip of the Leelanau peninsula. It was where I learned to sail, where I made life-long friends, and where my sister met her husband. There’s a little chapel there where my grandmother, my great-aunt, and my sister’s husband are buried. I loved the times I spent there as a kid and I used to dream about it when I was away. Sometimes we’d go up there for Christmas, and on cold afternoons I’d take a walk along the beach and down the road, looking at the shuttered homes that held memories of long twilights, beach parties, sailing races, and the rituals and trials of growing up. My parents loved the place so much that when my dad retired in 1982 they moved up there and ran a small business for fifteen years. When they decided to move back to Ohio to be closer to their friends, a chapter in our family’s story came to a close. But something like that is never forgotten.

Times change, and the village of Northport is changing with them. I know that these hardy people will weather the storm.