Looking to the Past, Moving Forward
I think it's important to say all of that because, with it, what I say next may come as a surprise. I miss the old days.
There was an article in the Cincinnati Post recently, talking about Case's Men's Wear closing downtown. The clothing shop has been a fixture of downtown Maysville, Kentucky, for 39 years. The article talked about the closing in the greater context of Main Street America falling victim to the Wal-Marts of commercialization and the olden days of when men and women would dress up to just go out in public. If you were a man, you wore a suit, a woman, skirt and blouse, the article said.
It may be Wal-Mart that caused the closing of shops like Case's but it's a whole other trend that has led to people like myself dressing down. Dressing up is always the classier way to go. That hasn't changed. What chipped away at that idea was an individual's yearning to express themselves individually. Instead of the IBM gray suit and tie, we have a multitude of ways an individual can express themselves, up to and including on the extreme end, Mimi from the Drew Carey show.
What we have really lost, and the article sort of conveys this, is a sense of communal spirit and identity. In our quest to find endless individual expression, we have lost the greater context of ourselves as individuals in a community of others. That's a real loss. Shops like Case's come and go, styles of fashion change with the times, but its not our fashion sense we have lost. We've lost each other.
What we need to find is not a better suit, or a better price. We need to augment our sense of self with a communal identity. That's what makes a town a town. As we move into the future, we need take with us that pearl from the past.