A recent article in the local paper was about the need for repair of sidewalks in Belton. The same could be written for any town in the U.S.. Sidewalks are a wonderful thing and are one of the great memories of my childhood. Unfortunately, they are disappearing from the American scene.
The sidewalks in my hometown were a thing of beauty. They were lined with crepe myrtles and were like the colorful fringe on a dress for our town. I walked on them to school and the short distance from my house to town. The sidewalk formed the boundary of the courthouse grounds. Most everyone walked in those days and the sidewalks served as a conduit for business and social exchange. They connected most of the homes and business establishments in our town. They also served as a safe path to ride my bike but I always gave way to the walker who had top priority for their use. I also used the sidewalk as the boundary for my football field and as a line of demarcation for almost every game I played. The sidewalks were truly a useful and beautiful part of our town and as I walked on my daily excursions I would never think of stepping on a crack for fear of breaking my mothers back.
It’s now very sad for me to see what has happened to the sidewalks in my hometown and across the country. They have either been destroyed or in a great state of disrepair. The remaining ones are buckled, badly cracked, chocked with weeds and often downright dangerous for walking. Kids and the few adults who walk anymore have to do so on the street or on the grass in folk’s yards.
As America moved to the suburbs, developers just found it too expensive to include sidewalks. People became addicted to the automobile and had to travel longer distances to shopping malls and other places of business. Sidewalks just weren’t needed anymore and they were too expensive. The downtowns and business hubs of places like my little hometown boarded up and the sidewalks went into a state of decay just like the town.
So many things of my youth have disappeared and have been replaced by fancier things like TVs, computers and cell phones. The beauty and usefulness of the sidewalks has not been replaced and are greatly missed. My spouse had one built around the side of our house but unfortunately it doesn’t extend around back so I can see it from the porch and be reminded of the beauty of that strip of concrete and the important role it played in the life of hometowns of America. If I ever build another house I am going to have one built so it can be viewed from every direction to serve as a fitting memorial to that important part of our history. It should be in clear view and accessible from any respectable porch.