It's hard to not think about the past when walking down the main street of Arlington, Nebraska. There haven't been gas pumps at the former French Oil Company (John Anderson's Conoco station before that) since gas was still well under $2.00 per gallon.
And directly behind in the background is the former F&R Foods. Farnum Franzenberg and his wife Rosella ran it for many years until they retired. Then somebody else. Then it closed, reopened, closed again.
I remember when the streets were busy and lined with parked cars when people shopped here. Saturday night was the time to go to town and shop for groceries, sell eggs and cream, maybe pick up some chicken feed or a salt block. Get a haircut at Rich Melvard's barber shop. Maybe you'd even stop in at Loftis' Cafe and have a root beer float or a pineapple milkshake. There were dances at the dancehall down at the Washington County Fairgrounds. For a number of years, stock car races every Saturday night in summer. The heavy perfume of drying alfalfa wafted up from the Arlington Dehydrator plant. Regular gas may have cost 24.9 cents a gallon--tax included.
Those days won't return. The past won't return anywhere. But it feels like we are expecting it to in America these days. Somehow, we think, everything will just click and suddenly America will work right again and all our problems and money woes will go away. At least that's how it feels.
But will it be that simple? If we don't think we have some very hard and serious work ahead of us, are we living in the past?