Thankfulness is based on history.

It is easy to identify the problems that we have in Newburyport.    Problems that are also accompanied by chronic issues such as beach erosion, design review issues, flooding, economic hardships, infrastructure, schools and the waterfront.

It is much too easy to walk around grousing about it, churning inside until it turns to bitterness.

Thankfully, I don’t have that problem.

I don’t because I have lived here for a good many years and, in a Townie’s perspective though, a short time; I have seen a lot of improvements.       And frankly, we’re surrounded by just good things that you would have to be a paraplegic not to enjoy them and even they could fill their lives with all the culture packed into our tiny City.

When I first moved here, there were still certain streets that you couldn’t walk down unless you were asking for trouble.     We had two ‘bad’ sections of town.       Jake’s Cafe had knifings and bar fights.      The general condition of many an historic home was deplorable.        The waterfront had a park but the rest were dirt parking lots.    I mean, dirt and that was it.     We had occasions where 11 downtown retail stores at a time would close up every winter.       Instead of bike paths, we had weed-choked abandoned railroad rights of way, peppered with druggies and homeless shelters.  The Ocean Mills complex off Kent Street was cavernous and in deplorable condition.   The firehouse was boarded up, the YMCA was a smoking ruin and we had gas stations (a lingering legacy from Bossy Gillis) downtown.

Okay, you get the picture.

And those were the good times compared to how bad the City was in the 60’s and 70’s.    

Granted, much of our City’s problems originated hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles away when National politics or world events came into play.      Regardless, they couldn’t take away most of the good things we have here.

Heaven’s sake, we have a bright future with more good things promising to come to Newburyport.     Sure, we’ll fight and knock ourselves out silly but improvements will come however inexorably.      Heck, even the tombstones in our cemeteries are being restored.       The future is looking very bright!

Frankly, I have developed a ‘Newburyport Syndrome’.      I enjoy being in our little community so much that I start to get depressed and even a little panicky when I visit other places.       One of the symptoms is to compare other towns and cities to Newburyport.     “They have this, we have this…”      And always, the un-comfortableness goes away as I approach the pastures off Route 95 or turn my car around the bend past Atkinson Park.     

I’m home.    

There is a lot to be thankful in Newburyport mainly because we have so many good things here, right now for us to enjoy!

-P. Preservationist

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