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Oldies not always goodies

October 01, 2002|by TIM ROWLAND

It was raining last Thursday, so I stuck an empty spackling bucket under the drainpipe. Figured I could always sell it to Frederick, Md.

Ah, at long, long last we finally have something that Frederick wants, do we? Well, well, well.

That's right, wells. Ones that aren't drier than a bachelor's bundt cake, anyway. For as dry as it's been here, Frederick is worse and Mayor Jennifer Dougherty says that a new, hastily drilled well there will only temporarily bolster local reservoirs, which are down to a month's supply.

This is all J-Dough (or any Frederick mayor for that matter) needs - to have to come crawling to Washington County gasping in a parched voice, "Wah-ter."

Funny though, I could have sworn I just read recently that Washington County has so little of the good old-fashioned wet stuff that we may have to enact a building moratorium. But now we have water to burn? (Figuratively speaking, of course).

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Anyway, things aren't so bad in Frederick that some folks have other issues on their mind, according to their local paper.

And honestly, not much floors me anymore, but the proposal in Frederick County to "preserve the area's few remaining gravel roads" came close.

I don't know what to think about this, because frankly it's something that never came anywhere near the neighborhood of crossing my mind.

Preserving dirt roads? Aren't there some other commodities they've missed? How do you go from farmland and covered bridges to dirt roads? What's next, the Society to Bring Back the Icebox? Hasn't this country already used up its daily recommended allowance of nostalgia through the year 2045?

According to a local news article, two musicians are holding a benefit concert to further the cause of dirt roads, and supporters hope to end current policy of paving dirt roads as a matter of course. They're looking for a Rustic and Rural Roads Program and of course - tell me you didn't see this coming - an annual dirt road festival.

And when I think, growing up in West Virginia, of all the good time and trouble we went to attending public hearings, writing letters to the Legislature and making endless phone calls to the Department of Highways to try to get our road PAVED...

And we succeeded. Of all the bad luck. Who knew 30 years ago that we were on the cutting edge of heritage?

I must have been unappreciative of the romance of having three-fourths of an inch of limestone dust settle on my new wax job, or having my front-end knocked out of line by moon-size potholes and of getting my wheels stuck in a muddy ditch. You get a flat tire on a dirt road in April and you ain't gonna represent at no Rustic and Rural Road Gloryfest, I can tell you that.

For some reason, the public at large thinks anything that's old has to be good. I'm surprised there's this much fuss over the return of smallpox. After all, it's so retro.

And I'll bet anything that in 100 years the grandchildren of the people who are today protesting the construction of cell towers will be protesting their removal.

Someday all electric lines will be buried, or electricity will be beamed through the air. And how soon afterward will it be that, with quivering lip, we mourn the loss of the venerable utility pole?

Poets will write odes to the transformer, which for decades so steadfastly did its work with nary a concern for glamour or publicity. We will cry for the days when children would tape yard sale signs to the darkened poles of pine, emanating their fragrant scent of deadly creosote in the hot afternoon sun.

With arms spread to the heavens we will caterwaul "Whither the bucket truck?" We will exclaim for the lost innocence of the days of the Wichita Lineman, we will ...

By the way, I should mention that if you're a first-time Frederick reader, don't mind me. The people over here all know - I'm just a jerk. I actually like dirt roads.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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