The march of progress
Published 3:59 pm Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I have this thing for Garland, Alabama. It’s called home. At least half-home. My mother was raised there and I remember myself as a little boy and afternoon Sundays spent playing outside in the yard, running off a big meal of chicken and squash and peas and hot cornbread.
I’m sure I’m looking back at Garland through rose-colored glasses. I’m sure, even back then, Garland was fading fast, dying like thousands of other small communities that dot the landscape of America today. Ramshackle gas stations, falling in houses, a few stop signs that served little purpose.
But maybe I thought Garland was alive because we were alive. My family flocked to Garland. My mother was one of seven children. Four uncles, three aunts, do the math on the number of cousins. A ton of folks. Laughing, playing, loving. The noise only drowned out from the train flying by.
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The railroad brought life to Garland. The automobile and Interstate stole it away. That’s not being bitter. That’s just the way it is.
Speed and progress go hand-in-hand. Life is quick and unforgiving. This is the world we’ve made and the world in which we live. Technology has made us more efficient human beings, but it’s not necessarily made us better human beings.
We lost towns like Garland, Alabama along the way.
And what have we gained?