It was sad to watch, last week, an historic building in our little downtown go up in flames. It was a hundred years old, and well-built, as was done in that era. It was its strength, in fact, that caused it to burn until it was gone. The uppermost floor reportedly was constructed of timber after timber set side by side, and after a hundred years of drying, and just a little bit of fire, they ignited one after the other and couldn't be stopped. Many of us stood on the sidewalks, ironically in a pouring rain, and watched as the edifice of our memories went up in flames.
Since then, there has been much reminiscing amongst the generations of neighbors here about our experiences in that store. I remember the grocery section that ran along the west side --from storefront to back -- and the bag boy who scared me, not a little, as he seemed big to this 4 year old, and liked to tease. He was on the street to watch and reminisce as well, about how many bags of groceries fifty dollars would buy then as compared to now. We remembered the grand staircase toward the center of the store, where we would climb to the second floor and watch, over the railing, the shoppers below. I remember the large grates over the forced air heat ducts, and standing on them to feel the air blow. We thought of Mr. Bode in the hardware department in the basement, and Mr. Easter selling shoes in the eastmost section...the door to it was unframed glass and heavy...so novel for that time! Others remembered the founder of the store, Mr. Waples, whose good business sense created a department store that was looked to as a model for communities across the nation. The oldest generation remembers that he became the respected man of town because of his integrity, and his generosity. They remembered with gratefulness how he carried many accounts and many, many thousands of dollars for those who were struggling through the years of the Depression, earning the loyalty of the town. Our reminisces brought to mind people who had well-established our little burg...people we had not thought of for years, but when remembered are still respected, and dear to our hearts. They were the founders of our way of life in Lynden. Their character and hard work, their generosity and support, laid the foundation for what has followed, and in remembering, we were reminded of all that we have to be thankful for.
We are all a bit sad that this landmark, and visible link to the past, has perished; and it makes us wonder how, as the landmarks disappear, the next generations will be able to remember the values and character of our beginnings...There are now many in this town that don't have the personal history to be attached to a building, or the memories of its builders...I only hope that we who have known them well can communicate the values and character in such a way that they are not lost to "progress"; and so that those that come after us will continue to hold them dear and carry on.