The year was 1970 and still remember my days in California where I traveled with my family between Long Beach, where my Dad was stationed, to Monterey to visit my Grandmother. Going north on Highway 101, there were little fruit stands along the road and once you got outside Los Angeles, the countryside was green as far as the eye could see. I could ride in the back of my folks’ station wagon and play in the back without being restrained by a seat belt. During those summers all of those years ago, I could hear the dragsters from Lions Drag Strip roar down the quarter-mile track and I also volunteered as a scorekeeper at the West Long Beach Little League games. I could walk with my brother along the road without something bad happening to us.
Today, California seems to be a place where the charming image has since disappeared In 1970, the state had 19 million people and today that figure is pushing 40 million and small towns like Azusa, Folsom, Gilroy, Encinitas and Tracy are being absorbed into megacities. The growth of government that started in the days of Pat Brown has now increased to colossal proportions under his son Jerry Brown who is serving his fourth and final term as Governor. State taxes have gone up, micromanagement of behavior is prevalent with the approval of plastic bag bans, identity politics is rampant where numerous minorities battle it out in colleges and other venues across the state and culture is being reduced to dollars and cents-based appetites. Classical buildings along Sunset Strip are being torn down to build mega condos and classic buildings across the Southland, as detailed by the wonderful website, Vintage Los Angeles, are being demolished in the name of “progress.” California is no longer a politically competitive state where Democrats rule the roost and will do so for some time to come until the day of fiscal reckoning. Once GOP bastions like Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena have long since gone over to the opposing party and even areas of Orange County like Anaheim, Fullerton, Irvine and Buena Park have fallen to the Democrats. Hillary Clinton, in fact, carried Orange County for the Democrats for the first time in 80 years.
This is a lament because Californians chose the wrong future. They certainly cannot go back to the days of Boss Radio, smog or Sam Yorty, but in the Golden State’s pursuit of progress, it has lost its soul and only serves the almighty dollar and “diversity” which in reality is uniformity. It will carry on with expanding government and trying to create paradise on earth, but when the realities hit like the rupture of the stock bubble and the coming shortages of water, the dream will end. I left California ten years ago and I am glad that I made that decision.
Much has happened in the City of Orlando and all of it has not been good. Shootings and a child towed under by an alligator has given the city a black eye that has tarnished its image as the City Beautiful. The city has grown into an entertainment mecca with theme parks and a clubs all over the place. Such modernity might be the in thing now, but it seems that the city lost a bit of its magic from the good ole days.
When I went to Naval Nuclear Power School in Orlando back in 1982, the city was still a sleepy southern town with a county population of just under 500,000 people. There was Walt Disney World, but that was pretty much about it as far as theme parks were concerned until the opening of Epcot in October of that year. Wet n’ Wild was the major water park where you could get in for $10 and the only nightlife in the town was Church Street Station which consisted of a few bars and from what I have read closed its doors almost 20 years ago. I took the bus a couple of times around Orlando, but the bus service ended around 7:00 p.m. as most people stayed at home to spend their evenings cooking meals and listening to country music on WHOO radio. Yes, there is so much more to do there now, but the hectic pace of going from one park to another and dancing the night away seems inadequate to filling the void left in the soul of man.
Perhaps it is time for people to set back and reflect on the meaning of culture and taking a break from the hustle and bustle or the rat race. Yes, the past might be somewhat silly according to this video, but it seems that families played together and stayed together and the pace was slow. Hopefully, places can once again become communities where people can associate with each without other things crowding out the natural growth of relationships. As Robert Nisbet said in his book “The Quest for Community” :
Other and more powerful forms of association have existed, but the major moral and psychological influences on the individual’s life have emanated from the family and local community and the church. Within such groups have been engendered the primary types of identification: affection, friendship, prestige, recognition. And within them also have been engendered or intensified the principal incentives of work, love, prayer, and devotion to freedom and order.
The Orlando of the past is gone and we cannot go back. However, it is not too late to preserve what’s left of the old culture where family, church and community was paramount. Let’s choose the right future.
Moving to Wichita Falls a few months ago, I was greeted with cold weather and dreary skies that lasted into March. A few weeks ago, I was greeted with a few nasty thunderstorms that produced a lot of hail that was bouncing off our windows in our apartment. Yes indeed, the weather is interesting here, but of course the most worrisome things here are the notorious tornadoes that dance across the southern plains mostly during the springtime. Wichita Falls is no stranger to these events. The city suffered great damage in April 1964 tornado where seven people were killed. Of course, while not as powerful as the 1964 tornado, the monster that struck Wichita Falls in 1979 killed 42 people and destroyed hundred of millions of dollars in property.
Life is full of risks in any area of the world. Earthquakes, hurricanes and blizzards occur world wide, but the tornado seems to be the most frightening of all events. We take our lives for granted every day and we must thank God for His provision and protection. It is my hope that my stay here in North Texas will be a blessed one for many years to come.