My Hometown

I heard today that some apparently very-narrow minded and word-challenged person criticized a man on Facebook . She didn’t care, apparently, or perhaps doesn’t know enough of the history of the town to know he was born in Highlands and held several both paying and volunteer jobs here as well as being a property owner and community leader. She challenged his right to have an opinion about how things are being done here because he doesn’t live here. The argument was he shouldn’t have an opinion because he doesn’t have “an investment” in Highlands.

That struck me as pretty sad, and if that’s the opinion of many people who live in Highlands, it certainly doesn’t bode well for the future of this charming piece of so many peoples’ hearts.

The informal, friendly way people talk about their love for Highlands is “once you get the sand between your toes, you can’t leave.” That’s true. People leave physically for college, for marriage, for work, for going to war and fighting for the right to still call and protect Highlands and the rest of the United States as the land of the free. Some come back, because they’re fortunate. Others don’t, either because they can’t for any number of reasons, money, family and jobs being among them. But whether it’s the sand between their toes, or the memories in their heart, spiritually and emotionally, they never leave Highlands.

They carry that love and pride in their hometown wherever they go, and they spread it to people who don’t know the feel of sand between your toes, the thrill of sucking up a freshly caught clam or the tickle of digging for clams with your toes. They go on to fight and win bigger battles in life because as a kid they overcame fears by taking that first leap off the Highlands Bridge. They went on to become ecologists because they remembered the deer with her little ones hiding in a Hartshorne Woods that was secluded, quiet, and full of hiding places for kids games and animal hunts. They took on causes in other towns that were also home after Highlands because they knew they had stood up before a Mayor Neil Guiney, Bud Bahrs, Bob Wilson, Jimmy White or Ray Ramirez, explained a situation and had a mayor who would listen, understand, and occasionally even compromise or agree there was a better solution, once he listened to the people. They learned and appreciated history because they knew it was in their backyard that the Pledge of Allegiance was recited aloud for the first time, their lighthouse had the brightest beacon in the world and saved untold thousands from shipwrecks and disaster. They know about Marconi and the invention and success of the wireless, and they even get a new appreciation of light housekeepers from the likes of Ole Nelson or even Bill Kennebeck who tended the buildings when so many others forgot that investment in time and history.

The dictionary meaning of INVESTMENT is “an asset or item acquired with the goal of generating income or appreciation.”

It’s a pity to those of us who made an investment in Highlands for the goal of generating appreciation to realize there are some who have the privilege and joy of living there today who look at it as an investment strictly in generating income. Again, that doesn’t bode well for the future of a town where Trudy Ederle learned to swim and Henry Hudson invested in its beauty.

So to the word-challenged woman who doesn’t know the real meaning of investment, a word from the wise is a far more important investment in which you should take some stock.


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