Emotions spill forth when I think of the town I lived in for my high school years. I was mortified when my parents informed me we were leaving the San Francisco Bay area to live in the Sierras in a small town called Susanville. I’ll never forget those first days of being the new kid in town or as we were referred to, the flat-landers.
But quickly students who had lived here their whole lives took me under their wing and I transitioned smoothly, or so I think I did. I ended up loving every minute of living in a small town. There was so much to do with almost weekly dances, trips to Eagle Lake, sporting events and just dragging Main Street in my parent’s car. (we didn’t have our own) Small town life was good.
Then I went away to college, University of Oregon, and got a job before I even graduated. Oregon was now my home and California was visited during vacations. Most of my friends had moved on too. But every time I returned I liked that small town life.
Then something happened. The prison, once a small minimum security affair, grew and got more hardened inmates. Some of their families moved into the town. The box stores moved in: Wal-Mart, Rite-Aid, and the big grocery stores. They moved to the other end of the Main Street and what was once a charming uptown area became deserted and run down. It’s still the same. The little shops like the soda fountain, he variety store, the shoe store and the dress shop are all gone. Nothing takes their place.The shops stay empty and the buildings deteriorate. It breaks my heart to see it.
Even the county buildings are being replaced by new ones. The old jail, which should be a historic building, is crumbling. Our gorgeous stone high school was replaced with a low-slung modern one. Everything changes and nothing is the same.
I’ll still return again and again and I hope, some how, the new residents will start to take pride in the little town that holds so many memories for me.