A col­umn of fond rec­ol­lec­tions

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A time of fond mem­o­ries: Of ne­ces­sity, com­ments in this col­umn will take a look back into the past con­cern­ing peo­ple, places, life and ac­tiv­i­ties in Cal­houn and Gor­don County. Words will be taken from col­umns of past years with ap­pro­pri­ate re­marks con­cern­ing up­dates. I will be­gin with ob­ser­va­tions from the past:

The Past: [ There was] a time when the GEM The­atre was the cen­ter of en­ter­tain­ment ac­tiv­i­ties in Cal­houn. It was more than en­ter­tain­ment – it of­fered so­cial in­ter­ac­tion for young and old alike. For those my age and older, it is a place of fond mem­o­ries. But then I re­mem­ber that the The­atre reached into the lives of those much younger than me, in­clud­ing my chil­dren and their gen­er­a­tion.

Let’s give credit where credit is due. It was the gen­er­ous do­na­tion of this prop­erty by Ray­mond and Pearl King mak­ing the restora­tion project pos­si­ble. The giv­ing of this prop­erty to Friends of the GEM should be remembered and grate­ful­ness ex­pressed from all who ap­pre­ci­ate the sig­nif­i­cance in­volved. To that end, I now say to them that this ges­ture means much to Cal­houn. It will be remembered with grate­ful hearts by all of us who ex­pe­ri­enced all the GEM The­atre of­fered dur­ing the decades of youth and adult­hood.

I write to­day to make us all con­scious of the op­por­tu­nity of pre­serv­ing a site that is of great his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance to our city and county. We can’t look on as the work is done by a few other peo­ple. This is a whole- com­mu­nity project. I ap­pre­ci­ate those who have taken the lead and shown the way. There is a brochure in ex­is­tence ( I can’t find mine or I could be much more spe­cific. As Mitch Tal­ley ti­tled one of my col­umns a few years back, “It isn’t lost; I just don’t know where I put it”.) All should ob­tain a copy of the brochure and learn what we can do. It shames ( and I use that word when I said a per­son, com­mu­nity or na­tion re­flected cul­ture in their thoughts and ac­tions.

It was the sixth def­i­ni­tion of spe­cial in­ter­est and which should de­mand our thoughts. Lis­ten as the dic­tionary de­fines “cul­ture” as “the ideas, cus­toms, skills, arts, etc. of a peo­ple or group that are trans­ferred, com­mu­ni­cated, or passed along, as in or to suc­ceed­ing gen­er­a­tions.”

It is tragic that the word cul­ture needs a dis­cus­sion of mean­ing or def­i­ni­tion. It was thought nec­es­sary to do so in or­der to dis­cuss some crit­i­cal and chal­leng­ing com­ments about the cul­ture of our na­tion and so­ci­ety. The Late Charley Reese, a syn­di­cated colum­nist, in his weekly col­umn in the Rome News-Tri­bune on March 20, levied a charge ( with which I agree) say­ing the, “Main­stream cul­ture is a sewer.”

Reese be­gan his col­umn with these words: “Ex­cuse me if I don’t like what passes for cul­ture these days.” Then he named some of the specifics of cul­ture he didn’t like. He said, “I don’t like rap, hiphop, singers with five- note voices and those who, when they try to sing, wear an ex­pres­sion on their homely faces that re­minds me of a fel­low with a bad com­bi­na­tion of hem­or­rhoids and con­sti­pa­tion.”

It was his next ob­ser­va­tion that should cap­ture all of our at­ten­tion and agree­ment as he spoke of singers who make every song sound alike, re­gard­less of what the com­poser wrote. This has long been a com­plaint here as I state I can’t dis­tin­guish one mod­ern singer from an­other and don’t un­der­stand the words. Can’t you see why I like Eddy Arnold?

Cul­ture is re­flected in every as­pect of a so­ci­ety’s ex­is­tence. Our cul­ture has changed and not nec­es­sar­ily for the bet­ter. Reese’s be­gin­ning af­fir­ma­tion: “Is main­stream so­ci­ety a sewer?” You de­cide.

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