Last week I touched on the unpleasant things that happened during the July 4th weekend celebrations. Today there are mostly good things to talk about.
According to reports at the Downtown Merchants meeting on Tuesday, most if not all merchants had a great Friday evening. Saturday wasn't quite as good, but it was still better than average. The hotels and motels were full and the restaurants reportedly did a good business.
Reports also indicate that car owners who visited for the cruise-in and car show enjoyed themselves, too. Many came on Thursday to enjoy an extended stay and at least one person reported that he had sold his car four years ago but he and his wife still come to Elkins every year during the Independence Day celebrations because they enjoy Elkins' ambiance.
As everyone noticed, there were some major changes this year. The Colgate Country Showdown and fireworks display were at the town square on Friday evening rather than at the Davis & Elkins College amphitheater on Saturday. These changes resulted from a number of things that I don't have room to go into here. As expected, there were comments both pro and con concerning those changes all of which will be considered in the planning for next year's program.
The location for the detonation of the fireworks received many and varied comments. Traditionally they have been displayed immediately after the showdown. Since that program was moved to the town square planners supposed, correctly so, that they could not be adequately viewed in the downtown area if detonated at the area of the soccer field and softball diamond on the D&E campus so they were moved to Glendale Park.
There were complaints that they were too far away and light pollution kept those at the town square from enjoying them as much as in previous years. That, however, was more than compensated for by the fact that many more people in Elkins, especially south Elkins, were treated to a much better view than every before.
It is important to remember that the fireworks are considered a part of the overall program for our visitors that evening. One must consider that the residents of Elkins, through various taxes, pay for the show making it even more important that they are given every advantage to enjoy them, too.
Having the fireworks on Friday evening also provided the opportunity for many people from neighboring communities to come to Elkins to see them and then enjoy those of their own community on Saturday evening. Having them on Friday also provided the opportunity for local residents to visit other communities for their displays.
Traffic is always a problem on this weekend because of the large influx of vehicles and visitors. Those that directed traffic during the cruise-in and car show during the weekend noted that the vast majority of complaints and angry comments directed at them were from local residents - not those from out of town.
Mayor Duke Talbott said at Tuesday's merchants' meeting that the downtown construction projects are going very well. "They are, in fact, ahead of schedule," he said.
Merchants also noted that flowers are being stolen from the flower boxes downtown. Hanging flower pots are not exempted from thievery either. From those, it seems, people are lifting only the species of flower they prefer - not the entire flower pot. Thefts from home flower gardens as well as the downtown area were reported. This makes one wonder what we're coming to.
Next Thursday, the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a "Two's day for Two's" Eggs and Issues program at the Holiday Inn Express at 7:30 a.m. The purpose of the meeting is to explain the purpose of the "Two's day for Two's" program planned for late August and September. According to planners, the program is designed to use two dollar bills as a means of following the cash flow through the Elkins economy. While it does not guarantee an absolute measure of scientific assurance of where and how the money flows, it will give a good overall picture of how money spent in the local economy stays in it.
Every merchant in the area is encouraged to attend.
Elaine Griesel has been working hard to raise money for Christmas lighting for the town square.
"It's a proven fact that lighting brings people to town during the Christmas season to shop," she said. She is encouraging merchants to consider adding a "touch of seasonal light" to their store fronts to help add color and beauty to the downtown area during the Christmas season. If you're interested, she has a catalog of lighting that is offering a discount for a few more days. She can be reached at Ceramics with Class or by calling 304-636-2903. Sounds like a great idea.
Just for giggles - we have to have a light heart once in a while - let's take a look at what things were like in America a century ago.
The average life expectancy for men was 47 years. Fourteen percent of the homes had a bathtub. Eight percent of the homes had a telephone. There were about 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads. The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 miles per hour. The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower. The average U.S. wage in 1910 was 22 cents per hour. The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year. A competent accountant could expect to earn $2,000 per year; a dentist $2,500 per year; a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year; and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year. More than 95 percent of all births took place at home. Ninety percent of all doctors had no college education - instead they attended so-called medical schools many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as "substandard."
Sugar cost 4 cents a pound. Eggs were 14 cents a dozen. Coffee was 15 cents a pound.
Most women only washed their hair once a month and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.
The five leading causes of death were, in descending order, pneumonia and influenza; tuberculosis; diarrhea; heart disease and stroke.
The American flag had 45 stars. Crossword puzzles, canned beer and iced tea hadn't been invented. There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day. Two out of every 10 adults couldn't read or write and only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.
Marijuana, heroin and morphine were all available over the counter at the local drugstore. Back then pharmacists said, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health."
Eighteen percent of households had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.
There were about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.A.
How things change in 100 short years.
There was a great article in a West Coast newspaper on June 20 about Cass. The writer, Karl Zimmermann, wrote in depth about the town's history and the Scenic Railroad. He quoted Gerri Bartels, an interpreter at the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, saying that Cass is West Virginia's "Williamsburg."
If you'd like to read it, log on to: latimes.com/travel/la-tr-cass-20100620,0,1287358.story and it will pop right up for you to read. It's an interesting read and interesting also to know that Cass is known across the breadth of America