Why are we so determined to trash the old when it still holds value and still reminds us of history’s challenges and triumphs?

Why are we so determined to trash the old when it still holds value and still reminds us of history’s challenges and triumphs?

I love to fish – ineptly but pleasantly – at Roaring River State Park near Cassville. The river itself, arising from a huge spring right there, is a natural wonder. All that cold water is perfect for rainbow trout smarter than the likes of me.

Those fish attract fishermen, and those people will spend irrational amounts of money obsessed with the pursuit of a full stringer. That’s important business in Cassville, Mo. And Roaring River is what it is today largely because of the efforts of the Civilian Conservation Corps eight decades ago.

Not the least of this is what is today called the CCC Lodge, a majestic but now unloved stone structure near the river. Once it was a hotel. It’s had other uses since but has still been a vital part of the place. If you fish there, you spend time in the store: flies and other lures, licenses and daily tags, groceries and T-shirts, and plenty of coffee. So up the stairs you would trudge. No, access wasn’t the best. The place was a little well worn. But it was fine.

Which is never good enough. A couple of years ago, they opened a new store – clean, bright, generic. It might as well be a QuikTrip. If it’s progress, I cannot see how.

The old building still sits there. The store used to be on the top floor. On the bottom floor, one year several summers ago, they tried an ice cream shop. There was coffee and hot breakfast sandwiches – a terrific idea that flopped. There was a fly shop. All came and went. And the second floor? I have no idea what’s been done with that space except probably storage.

I see that they want to put up a statue at Roaring River for all the of CCC folks who worked in Missouri. My grandfather was in the CCC in Missouri (not at Roaring River), and I think a statue is fine idea. This was a program born of the Great Depression that gave young men hard work but also the discipline and reward of a paycheck, and it helped give them a path to a better career. CCC projects are all over, many still in use.

It was a program to meet the needs of a specific time. It couldn’t be exactly replicated today, even if it’s not a bad idea at all. (For what it’s worth, as soon as Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, I thought a CCC-type program could have headed off much of the needlessly lingering pain that Katrina left behind. Volunteers did great work down there. The government should have stepped up.)

So build the statue. I will pause long even from not catching fish to give a tip of the cap when they unveil it. (Grandpa also would have rather fished.) I’m guessing the statue would go right in front of the lodge, which is itself on the National Register of Historic Places.

But the lodge means something, too. We should honor those who built it – those who built so much in this country – by finding a good use for it and cherishing it for a few more generations.