Thursday, June 4, 2009

All Buildings Great and Small

During our recent trip to Washington, D.C. to attend the 85th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee with Kira, I was reminded of my youth, and how, as a young boy growing up in Bluff, Utah, I yearned to see the wonders of the world. We were, however, dirt farmer poor, so I could identify no particular prospects for finding my way out of this small community.

Twin Rocks Monument

At the time, Dorothy Nielson, the post mistress and wife of Dick Nielson, wrote a column for the weekly newspaper. It was Dick who maintained that he was one of only two sane people in Bluff and, having properly obtained his acquittal from the Big House where the staff all wear white coats, could in short order produce the paperwork necessary to prove it. Everyone agreed with Dick’s personal evaluation, and speculated who might be the other rational individual.

Dorothy’s stories told what was happening in our town; focusing on deaths, births, shopping trips, town get-togethers, residents moving in, residents moving out and other similar occurrences. On rare occasions, Dorothy would relate the details of a trip one of our inhabitants had taken to some exotic place outside of the Four Corners. Those columns were of particular interest to me, and I read them over and over, trying to understand what it was like in Los Angeles, Dallas, Boston or even Washington, D.C. Anything outside the continental United States was too far out of my realm to even consider.

As I have traveled over the years, I often thought of Dorothy and what it was like to live in Bluff during the 1960s. So, as Grange and I stood at the base of the Washington Monument, gazing up its 555 foot length, Dorothy, Dick and the entire cast of characters from Bluff, circa 1967, came to mind.

Despite their unique qualities, to my knowledge, nobody from Bluff has ever made an enduring mark on the national stage. This may be because we have never found ourselves in the right circumstances, or because we simply did not recognize them when they occurred. In any case, we are all just ordinary citizens taking care of our daily lives in the best way we can.

As I surveyed the monumental buildings on and around the National Mall, however, I began to notice the ancillary structures necessary to maintain and support the standouts. It occurred to me that these smaller, less memorable, buildings were every bit as important as the ones we stand in line to experience. Those maintenance sheds, ticket counters, heating and cooling pump houses, security buildings and guard stations are every bit as important as the magnificent structures, and were often beautiful in their own right.

Living in our isolated environments, whether that be small town Southeastern Utah or a large metropolitan area, it is easy to forget that without “We The People”, Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence would have had no meaning, Washington would have had nobody to lead and Lincoln could not have brought freedom to the enslaved. So, as Barry and I do what we can to ensure the preservation of the local Native culture, we must remember that Twin Rocks Trading Post, as small and unimportant as it may seem to us at times, is much like those maintenance sheds, guard stations and pump houses. If nothing else, we are providing much needed support.

Later that week, as we stood at the grave site of Robert F. Kennedy in Arlington National Cemetery, I realized just how powerful small can be. As opposed to his brother’s tomb, which has an eternal flame, a broad view of the capital and marble all around, RFK’s final resting place is comprised of just one small cross and an expanse of grass. What I felt at the grave of John F. Kennedy was nothing compared to the simple, raw power of RFK’s burial.

Although we may at times aspire to fame and notoriety, we must always remember that even small contributions can be big.

With Warm Regards,
Steve, Barry and the Team.

Copyright 2009 Twin Rocks Trading Post

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