Saturday, February 19, 2011

An Inherited Memory of Place

I met an individual a few summers ago (Ralph Wolpart, I think I recall him saying) who owns one of the empty buildings on Potter Street not far from the train station and the details this 80-something recalled from the time he was a grocery delivery boy on Potter Street so clear and detailed:

The distinct hot-wet smell of trains
Almost as if they drew a deep breath far, far away
And only exhaled when they came to rest
(find two people who remember that - I dare you)

People streaming in and out of storefronts
Making purhcases or deliveries
For long trips
Or a homecoming

Sounds of horse-drawn vehicles
On wood and brick pavements

The quiet that fell after the last train of the day

Ralph finished his coffee that day and shambled out leaving on the counter in front of me a gift I could almost-but-not-quite touch: A memory-like impression that the Potter Street district must have been an amazing place once.

Now it is very, very quiet as if the last train of the day somehow led to an indefinate stall that left people trickling out over the decades and now the empty windows of the stores and depot look on nothing and no one. Well, almost.

It is interesting to note that even as the city govornment of Saginaw looks upon this neighborhood as a problem to be dealt with there is a small, but very energetic, group of people who live in the few remaining "big old houses" and the friends of these residents who see the remaining commercial buildings and homes surrounded by a tree-dotted meadowland as a place of opportunity.

That opportunity only exists as long as the neighborhood also continues to do so...
Potter Street at night. Six blocks worth saving...

No comments: