Criticism? Bring It On

My critics — yes, I have quite a few — will let me know that they think I am stuck in the past. Maybe I wear bell bottomed slacks on occasion, but I still believe my mentions of the past have merit.

I have written many times about various events in downtown Wheeling when the streets were teeming with people walking nearly shoulder to shoulder at holiday time. And I might recall some neat events such as the famous night sales at Stone and Thomas or the fabulous three-hour Christmas parades. Does that make me less than a progressive person?

As someone who has worked in downtown Wheeling for almost four decades, it’s not easy accepting all the changes around me. There is comfort in familiarity of people and places. When they disappear, uncertainty sets in.

I overheard another downtown worker saying how she used to spend her lunch hours shopping “up the street” for birthday gifts or just picking up some new socks for her kids. I’m not sure you can buy a pair of socks in the downtown except maybe at the CVS drugstore.

Please don’t take that as a slam to our city leaders or Wheeling’s visionaries. Cities, towns and villages all over the valley are dealing with the changes that challenge operating budgets. The loss of population practically everywhere hits where it hurts — the pocketbook. The words “revitalize” and “reinvent” are used a lot as millennials find their way in today’s world. And some of the things happening up and down the Ohio River are exciting and noteworthy, but just haven’t replaced the void of empty storefronts.

At 62 years and nine months of age, I am classified as one of the “older” members of the community and workplace. With that age comes some glints of wisdom, yet I strive to learn something new each and every day. Gratefully, the young folks around me are usually good about helping me navigate the unfamiliar places on the World Wide Web.

I just wish the younger set would take a moment to lift their eyes from their smartphones, Ipads and computers long enough to see the world around them. Quit listening to fake news and tabloid shout-outs about people in Hollywood whose opinions on war and peace are as noteworthy as the lousy movies they star in.

Look up and listen to the war veteran who has faced things most of us pray we never have to. Visit a farm where the only “dirt” dished up is in a cow pasture. Breath in the fresh air at a local park and hear the sounds of nature as it settles down for the evening. Stop fretting about the height of buildings or saving structures that are well beyond their years. There is something to be said about knowing where you came from before you get to where you are going. Build anew with lessons learned from the past. What will you be talking about in 40 years? I wish you wonderful memories, and until then, I will continue to share mine with you.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at: