Betsy’s Corner: Theory of Relativity – Floods and Fallen Heroes

I am new in town. In a community that has its roots in the pre-Revolutionary War era, 21 years seems like a very short time. When we moved here in 1996, I thought my 1931 house was really old. The place was out of date and it desperately needed renovations. Now, after living here for two decades, I have a different viewpoint. Maybe I am older and wiser. I now realize how many historic homes are still surrounding our town green. It is obvious that a house built only 86 years ago is “new” by Longmeadow standards. In the eyes of preservationists and architectural historians, my 20th Century house is not old at all. The plumbing is out of date in our home, but the place won’t be an “antique” until 2031. It just depends on how you look at it!

Einstein, the genius who came up with the scientific theory of relativity, was intimately involved with experiences that proved relativity in 1917. Perspective can often cloud or reveal our awareness on a subject. Our DPW structure was also built in 1931. It is decidedly leaky and decrepit. We need a new facility for sure. Where should it be? I can’t decide, but I need to make up my mind by June 13. So do you! In 1988 our town voted “No” to rebuild our Department of Public Works. The recent town meeting vote was a “Yes” in favor of a new larger building at Grand Meadows off of Converse Street. How will you vote in the upcoming election? We all need to go to the polls and decide on an over-ride. Is it okay for a $200 average yearly increase in your taxes and to take that commercial zoned land off the tax income for our community? Is it necessary to move this facility to a residential area near Franconia Golf Course? It’s been in the meadows – a flood plain for 86 years. The last big floods were in: 1955, 1953, 1938, 1936 (highest point was 63 feet higher than usual) the 1880s, and the memorable Great Flood of 1695.

The floods happen on a regular basis – every 100 years or so. Our town leaders seem to agree that the DPW needs to move. We all must decide for ourselves. I feel a bit torn. On one hand, it would have been great to get this project done in 1988 – but we cannot go back in time and fix it! Time travel does not happen – at least around here.

We must look ahead. Is the project too grand and expensive? The town meeting turnout was only 300-plus folks, so how many will ultimately decide the fate of the DPW? You need to show up at the Community House on Tuesday June 13 or forever hold your peace. Is this an issue of want or need?
On a more solemn note, I attended the 137th annual Memorial Day service during the Long Meddowe Days weekend. After the Civil War the country started to celebrate Decoration Day and Americans put flags on graves of fallen soldiers. Did you realize that 53 souls from our small town died for our country – here and abroad? Here are their names:

Colonial Wars: Nathaniel Burt

Revolutionary War: Aaron Steel

Civil War: James Bliss, Carlo Brown, Dorr Bruce, Howard Burnham, Edward Burt, George Cook, Elias Coomes, James Coomes, George Dines, James Donoghue, Samuel Irving, Asahel Gage, Jr., Elisha Gross, Michael Harris, Alfred Hitchcock, Nathaniel Knox, Ethan Lathrop, George Miller, Timothy Mullen, John Shea, William Smith, Frank Stebbins, Myron Taylor, Nathaniel Taylor, James Twiss, Edmund Warner, Levi Warner

World War I: George A. Beal, R. McNair, Albert T. Wood

World War II: Thomas Balise, Marshall Gebeau, Richard Hale, Charles Hutchinson, Harold Leveille, Ben Loving, John Munroe, Arthur Pickett, Whitney Russell, Erwin Schott, Richard Thomas, Edwin Voorhees, Jr., Morgan Wesson, Edward Wilkin, Recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, William Willard, Jr., Ronald Zundell

Korean Conflict: Gerald W. Potts

Vietnam War: Ralph H. Hines, Thomas K. Kamp, and John A. Sickell III

These individuals made the ultimate sacrifice for peace and freedom. Remember those who fought for freedom, and participate in your right to vote for the School Committee Members and for the DPW issue. Either way you look at it – something must be done for change to occur. Let’s think hard and make the right choices that will bring the best options for Longmeadow’s future.

– Submitted by Betsy Huber Port

This is an opinion piece, and the views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Longmeadow News or its staff. Opposing viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged. Email for more information.