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Lloyd Waters: Revitalization for Hagerstown and Dargan, too!

September 25, 2011|By LLOYD WATERS

I can remember many years ago, in the heyday of downtown Hagerstown, my mom and grandmother would take me to the big city in search of some school clothes.  

Regular stops at J.J. Newberry’s, Rosen’s and McCrory’s were always a part of the trip. A last stop always included a visit to the Majestic Restaurant, where a Dargan boy could gaze into the street window and see hamburgers and hot dogs swimming around in some tantalizing juices on the grill.

I always liked the Majestic.   

Like everything else, however, time never permits anything to remain the same. To believe one can recapture those enterprises and times of a bygone era through revitalization is a dreamer’s dream.

But while Mayor Bruchey and others are dreaming, I thought I might dream myself.

Perhaps, if we get the right committee of people together, a little money and someone who believes it can be done, we can restore downtown Dargan to a former day and era.

I know there are some soothsayers out there who say it can’t be done. And I know there are some who might say, “Why bother?” But restoring Dargan might be the beginning of something special.

Yes, I believe we all can dream, and we’ll start at the very beginning with some old ideas.

Unlike Boonsboro, we will invite every chicken farmer who wants to raise chickens. Even Hoover recognized the importance of a chicken when he promised a chicken in every American pot when he ran for president.

Maybe the next Republican nominee will promise the same thing. Heck, our program will also include the opportunity to raise hogs once again. Those old-time butcherings were special events where everyone would come together for a day of hard work and good times.

Cellphones, Facebook accounts, video games and CNN will all be banished in the new Dargan neighborhood.

Cable bills of $100 will be eliminated for the return of TV antennas and four simple channels (4, 5, 7 and 9 — and channel 13, maybe, with rabbit ears).  

All kids will “once again” want to go to the schoolyard to play baseball, basketball and football.

Once our revitalization is complete, people will once again “enjoy the sunrise and sunset” of each day.  

Life will be good again.

While we’re at it, we’ll petition the Washington County Board of Education to reopen that Dargan two-room schoolhouse. Real teaching and learning will return.

We’ll need a grocery store in downtown Dargan, too. A store just like Jim Grim’s in 1958 will be fine.

Once our program is complete, I know old Hank Williams Jr. will want to book a night or two at the Mad Dog saloon. I can almost hear him singing “A Country Boy Can Survive” and “Family Tradition” right now.

We’ll need to plow up some fields, too, because our program will also include a garden for every resident. Raising our own produce and once again smelling the black dirt on our hands will be required. I can almost see the fields of tomatoes, potatoes, squash, string beans, corn and other crops just waiting to be harvested.

“Returning to the basics” will be our motto. We will survive for sure.

Finally, what would revitalization be without bringing back some of those old-time recipes that used to cause so much smoke and sweet smells in the neighborhood?

I can’t say too much about this proposal or Sheriff Mullendore just might want to be on our planning committee. Sorry, Sheriff, only original Dargan citizens will be permitted to serve on this committee.

Wow, there goes the alarm. Must be morning already.  

Upon awakening, I come to realize that revitalization of Hagerstown and Dargan is not going to happen — and probably for the same reasons. But I guess it’s always good to have a nice dream, huh?


Lloyd “Pete” Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes columns for The Herald-Mail.

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