By Yan Kandror
Dear editor and most honorable citizens dancing on the Wheel of Karma in our beautiful cosmic hamlet by the sea.
No, this is not Brother Asaiah, nor his ghost writing, and, — yes, I think I’ve got your attention now, even if it is to growl indignantly: — “How dare he?!..”.
Yes, I dare! I dare to speak the words that once used to stir the hearts of people in this community. I dare, because not much of anything does it any more. Just look at us. Are we the same citizens of Homer who were so proud to achieve the “Nuclear Free Zone” status for our town? The people who selflessly and fearlessly united to protect our waters from Exxon Valdez Oil Spill? Now we are getting cozy with the Big Oil, letting them drill in our backyard and letting their representatives assure us in the pages of this paper that “…they will fit right into the community.”
We are also charging unsuspecting homeowners over three grand for a dubious option of buying natural gas (if they happen to so desire). We eliminate and desecrate historic Homer sites by crushing usable old buildings with backhoes and taking truckloads of history to the landfill.
My friend brought me couple of boxes of old books that he managed to snatch from the jaws of the trash compactor, when Leo Rollins’ place was being sanitized into its present beautiful state. What a treasure trove it turned out to be: Old photographs, postcards, papers concerning statehood aspirations and Leo’s contracts for dirt work for the fledgling City of Homer. It contained signed books by such Homer luminaries as Ethel Cavanaugh and John Waterman, etc. How much did not get saved? This is history in the making. It will not become valuable historic knowledge until after it’s been unearthed from late 20th century kitchen midden by some adventurous 30th century archeologist. Homer of Pioneers, Homer of Homesteaders, Homer of the Hippies, Homer of Homebuilders and even Homer of Homeowners all generate their own history.
If we are not careful, the only historical documents available to our descendants will be the works of Tom Bodett, which, thankfully, are being reprinted regularly. Incidentally, I’ve heard that the entire contents of Brother Asaiah’s house likewise ended up in the dumpster. I can only imagine how many truly rare gems were there. Like, for example, original Toby Tylers, Brad Hughes, maybe even Norman Lowells. We lost Steve Chandler’s castle, which despite it’s questionable applications, was still a really original work of beauty and imagination. Anywhere else, I imagine, Kildeer egg houses would be a proud local landmark and wonderful tourist attraction.
I wonder if Homer Chamber of Commerce realizes how much interest and wonder does Bob Cousin’s collection of old boats on the Spit generate. For HCOC it probably is nothing but an annoying eyesore and it may come as a surprise to some that old weather-beaten hulls of these workhorses of the fishing industry (which we seem to be losing to Pebble Mine and the like) can excite the sensibilities of a history-minded boat buff just as much as gleaming teak and polished brass at the Homer Wooden Boat Festival. I imagine people do not come from their condos and suburbs for the purpose of seeing more condos and suburbs in a glorious setting of our beautiful Homer Spit.
And now I come to the main point of this letter. Color me obsessive or crack jokes about flavor of the month, but I consider the building of public restroom in the WKFL park a sign of disrespect and a desecration of an important historical site. That small patch of ground has become symbolic for me and I suspect not just for me alone: as a location of the early trading post (I, of course, mean “Kennedy’s Last Chance”), as a place of an epic battle between veterans and pacifists and finally as a gift to the City of Homer from one of its beloved and (I hope) remembered citizens. I would put Brother Asaiah’s memorial there. Would anybody here like a urinal for their memorial?
It seems that it’s a basic human behavior trait, to create symbols and observe rituals. Sometimes, when they affect a number of people, living in close proximity to one another, they become common values. I believe that any entity that undertakes the governing of a community of humans should endeavor to make itself familiar with and try to respect its common symbols and rituals. Otherwise loggerheads are unavoidable. Besides it all, doesn’t the so called “good taste” suggest finding a subtle and unobtrusive location for a bathroom rather than pushing it into proud prominence. I understand that putting it so close to the town’s heart is motivated by the ability of the nearby order-upholders to protect it better from loitering, shady activities and vandalism that places of this particular nature so steadily invite. But think of it this way: “Don’t we provoke all that abuse by creating a sheltered warm place that will only serve its true purpose for three months out of the year and remain a smelly public heating expense for the rest of the time?”
And for the parting shot. Experience suggests that there, most likely, will not be a prophylactic dispenser available at the new rest-stop (my hat is off to Herald Gnad), since, while our society endorses and encourages certain kinds of physiological human functions, it prudently and rigorously ignores other ones, much less concerns itself with their safety.
Yan Kandror is a longtime Homer resident who owns the Observance of Hermits Book Store.
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