There was a time when I lived with several of my friends. There was a house in a community several miles from the farm where we and the owner’s brother would spend our time when not working. We actually didn’t work the farm much except for a little planting, tobacco harvesting and on hog butchering day. I still eat bacon and ham, but after helping in the slaughter and rendering of the hog fat, I wonder why.
The Mrs. and cook extraordinaire would use the tallow or lard in her pie crust, fried chicken and pork chops and anything else for which she needed fat. Fresh eggs, corn on the cob, and the best fried okra you ever stuck a fork in. Madeline is still alive and in her mid-nineties. The pig fat never hurt her, not a plugged artery or high blood pressure. She’ll probably out-live me. And, all of us who lived in her house in the late 60s and early 70s are grateful to her.
On some sunny afternoons our little group would sit under a grand white oak tree overlooking the farm or up in a natural-hay and tobacco smelling loft and talk politics. We discussed what we thought were lofty ideas, but most of it was pseudo intellectualism. In reality our opinions were regurgitations from the political science classes we were taking in college.
By the time our political idealism came to a head and we were all living separately and working our butts off, Nixon was gone, Ford was gone and Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan were battling it out. As history played out, we saw Reagan take office and my friends, the pretend philosophers, boarded planes to Australia. Those half dozen friends now have families that have increased the Cincinnati expat crowd to about a dozen.
I was alone in my decision to stay behind. I was going to change things. I would work from the inside and make our home a better place, teach my children how to “give back” or pass it forward. For the most part, that ingredient of the philosophy of my life has worked.
But I wonder what else I can do with my little army of Fausz’. The major group with which I’m involved was recently asked to paint the posts that hold the Chester welcome signs. I said it would get done. As of this writing both welcome signs have yet to be painted.
As I have written before, this end of the county has to fight for what it gets or do it ourselves. I have wanted (and the county should too) the interchange at I-95 and West Hundred Road cleaned up and made attractive with a little landscaping and possibly a sign that says “Welcome to Chesterfield.” You know that interchange is one, if not the busiest entrances, to Chesterfield. So much so that Chesterfield’s Department of Transportation has funds on the books to widen West Hundred from the interchange to Jefferson Davis Highway. Are sidewalks in the plan? You know in the last Chester Village Plan every new road built should have a sidewalk. What happened to that idea, it wasn’t even done at the expansion of Route 10 at the Courthouse for crying out loud. What are our priorities? We always hear our Supervisors and administrator talk about quality of life. A junky interchange says crappy community when visitors jump off at the interchange. It is the entrance to one of the counties bright stars – Henricus Historical Park, and the county’s precious sporting events – how do we project our so called “quality of life?
West Hundred Road at the same leads to Jefferson Davis Highway, a road designated “Historic Route 1. How about focusing on revitalization there? The Jefferson Davis Association does a great job there, but how much help do they really get from Chesterfield? And who does the work? Citizens lobby for anything they get themselves.
Some work tirelessly to make this end of the county (southeast of the Great Chesterfield Mountains) better, but I haven’t seen much improvement other than private projects in the long time. Groups such as the Chester Community Association, the Jefferson Davis Association and the Civic organizations prop up this end of the county with events, revitalization and creating a sense of place.
Central Chester is about to get some new crosswalks when the road is repaved or slurried (tar coated), but the crosswalks are nothing fancy just some extra stick down lines that won’t last long. Oh, and hey, we’re getting about a half mile of sidewalk on Osborne Road to complete that ages-old pedestrian route. But lobbing for that small project has been on the books since 2004.
It’s not all the county’s fault or our county representative’s fault, we have to demand the quality of life we want and deserve, otherwise those who say these upgrades should be market driven will win, and we will end up with deteriorating quality of life.