“A great many people fondly imagine that if they are honest, pay their debts, and do not speak disparagingly of other people they are among the mainstays of the town. But such is not always the case. Honesty and a careful mouth are much to be commended, but this town needs more than that. It needs citizens who will get out of their way to do something for the town, who will labor to better local conditions, who will go their length to bring new industries and new people to our community. Such people as these are in reality the mainstays of a town. And we need a few more mainstays.”
Those words were written in January of 1917 by Guy A. Crossett, editor of The Caddo Herald. Mr. Crossett was the publisher of The Caddo Herald from 1899 until shortly before his death in 1948. He died at a relatively young age, 68, but left a legacy befitting a man twice his age. He was a family man, philosopher, reporter, and one of Caddo’s most ardent promoters. I know from reading the paper for the past fifteen years that he had a sense of humor and that he was also a man of values. If he had enemies or secret vices I have yet to discover them. He and his wife Daisy were definitely mainstays.
I borrow these words from Mr. Crossett today to remind my fellow citizens that Caddo, and towns like it across America, are in danger of disappearing as their older residents die. With a few exceptions respectfully noted it seems that many younger people are not interested in town preservation and promotion. When projects are envisioned and events are planned and committees are formed and tasks are assigned they are absent from the roster of “mainstays”. I know they are busy with jobs and families and other interests, but so were the people of the past, like Mr. Crossett; and those among us with gray hair who started in community service many years ago did not wait until retirement to do so.
It is not enough to be a good person and be proud of your high school football team and be kind to your friends and neighbors. Someone has to take up the baton and make sure that in the future there IS a high school football team and there IS a neighborhood. And Caddo residents face the additional prospect of preserving or losing the downtown buildings that have proudly served the community since the early 1900s.
I went downtown recently to take photos of the old buildings and document their existence in greater detail than I have in the past. My fear is that with a few more years of neglect they will not be here. Their exquisite brick work will be lost to history. Their whispers of past events will be silenced. And we will lose something precious we can never reclaim. If you don’t believe me, go take a tour of Kenefic. Only photos remain to tell the story of that once thriving town.
Are you a mainstay? Maybe 2013 will be the year to find out.