Tuesday, April 8, 2014

back from the motherland...

it's depressing to see the old home town continue to shrivel on the vine.  driving into town the population sign reports the census in 2010 as-- 831!!.  OMG!  a search indicates that in 1990 the population was recorded as being 1102.  it was down a smidge to 1011 in 2000.  But 831 in 2010??!! that's a loss of 271 souls in just 20 years, but it was never big, something just over 1300 souls back in 1960. down 500 over the past 50 years.  

are the pioneer families dyeing off at that rate.  it wouldn't surprise me.  for sure there is little to keep the young'uns hanging around after graduation.  even a cursory inspection shows a once thriving town in extended free fall. but that's been the state of things since, when?  like, as in forever! 

did the slide in census numbers start the day the four lane bypassing o'donnell to the west opened?  without the passing through traffic, less money found its way into local coffers.  or was the decline triggered by the advent of bigger and better farm equipment? or by the increasing use of herbicides? viva la roundup!  that advent likely signaled the beginning of the end for the bracero program which ended in 1964. the braceros pumped up the local economy with extra dollars through the summer and fall.

whatever the case, o'donnell is in a word, sad.  it looks tired and worn, a ghost of the vibrant community it once was.  i remember Saturdays as laundry and grocery shopping days, of abandoning the fields at noon to get those weekly chores done to get ready for the work week ahead. both sides of the street were lined with cars, every building had a thriving business.  now the streets are mostly empty, the vacant store fronts stare blankly, no glimmer of life from within.  such is the fate of small towns everywhere with a dwindling population and tax base. 

as for the old home town there is something of a blossoming oil and gas presence and the hope that wind energy will see the value of the constant lynn county winds.  if the oil "boom" fizzles there is still the wind, the ever present wind. if only there was access to a transmission line, things might be different.

it's not a ghost town, yet-- still, it makes me sad.


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