Real Wealth Society

Sunday, July 29, 2007

I’ve been thinking about weekends By Fred Cederholm

Column for on/after July 22nd,2007

I’ve been thinking about weekends. Actually I’ve been thinking about Creston, the Opera House, communities, food/bingo, vintage baseball, and ice cream socials. The events of the past week continued an escalation of global hostilities, a failed congressional attempt to bring our troops home, a yet further erosion of the US dollar’s valuations, $ 3 + gas / $4 + milk, more product recall/ toxic alerts, and volatile equity markets. The news pretty much sucked, I was looking forward to the weekend – I needed a break.

You see we need our weekends to catch up on things we put off, to share good times, to renew relationships, and to recharge ourselves for the coming week. While busier than usual, this past weekend was pretty typical. The Congressman Thomas “Tip” O’Neill once said, “all politics is local.” That may well be true, but I am convinced that “the real humanity and what is good (and great) about this nation is local as well.” Despite all the negatives thrown at US/us statewide, nationally, and internationally, the positive bonds of friendship, community, and working together will ultimately prevail in uplifting us.

Creston is a very special community. Whether a family spends a few years or a lifetime here, they soon realize what a difference people can (and do) make here. Community action and participation in local projects have accomplished so much for this small mid-western town of roughly 500 people. A majority of the residents have been here for generations – their ancestors coming to Creston from the countries in Scandinavia and Northern Europe in the late 1800’s. As new blood has arrived from elsewhere, the “newbies” realized that to truly assimilate into our community, they need to share their culture/ heritage and become involved in local projects and activities – that has been the key to what has made America so truly great and unique. “E. Pluribus Unum” is more than catch phrase, or a motto.

The restoration of the Italianate Creston Opera House has been an ongoing project for sometime now. In 1900 there over 800 of these across Illinois; now roughly 20 survive. These served to host local and traveling programs and recitals, they served as a venue for community meetings and speakers, and they epitomized a source of community pride and interaction. After three years of demolition and major structural work, the building is “staging a comeback” as the re-building commences in earnest. Last week, the building committee met to detail and to prioritize the punch list for completion of the lowest level. Full payment for the $42,000+ steelwork was made as well. Despite all the volunteered labor, the costs have been staggering. We’ve raised all the money ourselves thru sundry projects and fund raisers.

Saturday, we staged an authentic Mexican dinner at Booster Park. Maria, her sister Lily, and their families proposed the idea and prepared all the food. While they’ve only been part of our Creston community for a couple years now, they wanted to get involved and actively help with fundraising for local projects. This event was incredible and absolutely delicious! It was the first time we had staged such an event and we served well over 100 entrees – featuring tacos, enchiladas, burritos, beans and rice. During part of the event, people played bingo for donated veggies, and cash prizes. We did very well ($) and everyone had a great time! At the conclusion, all pitched in to return our Booster Park to normal.

Meanwhile another volunteer contingent – the Creston Regulators vintage baseball team - was away doing their part up in Rockford, Illinois to help raise money for the Rockford Peaches and the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League re-union fund. The “Peaches” of the 1950’s were the basis for the movie, “A League of their Own.” The Regulators played the Midway Marauders of Rockford in 19th Century uniforms according to 1858’s rules in the new Road Ranger Stadium. Admission was $1, and the fans, - known as “cranks and crankettes” – could pull on a vintage jersey/tunic and play an inning in return for a special donation. The Creston Regulators won 8 to 3 – HUZZAH!! Over $ 600 was raised for the “Peaches” re-union to be held October 24-27th. Pip… pip… for the retro boys of summer.

The events past weekend culminated for me Sunday evening with an old fashioned ice cream social at my home congregation St. Johns in Creston. This was a time of community fellowship over sandwiches, pies, cookies, and ice cream. The ice cream social was followed by a program of musical offerings by various locals. It was truly a Norman Rockwell’s America event. The lyrics from one of the closing songs - made popular by the late Louis Armstrong (George Weiss / Bob Thiele) - summed up this past weekend so well: “I see trees of green, red roses too I see them bloom for me and you And I think to myself, (locally) what a wonderful world…
I actually felt a sense of inner peace and a renewed hope for America. I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.

Copyright 2007 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved.


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