All hail Venus Cloacina, and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" I'm Anne Johnson, school teacher, and I got observed today. What an ordeal! I hope you don't ever have to endure such an indignity yourself.
But the subject of the sermon today isn't observations. I always get a C+, nothing better. I'm used to it.
Today's sermon is yet another rumination on the evils of modern capitalism.
My grandparents lived up in the mountains, but my family and I lived in the Cumberland Valley, which is nestled between the Blue Ridge and the Allegheny mountains. It's a lovely, fertile area with rolling hills and limestone outcroppings (technical name, Karst topography). The Antietam Creek meanders through. So perhaps you have heard of this place.
When I was a kid, there were a few factories north of Hagerstown, and a few more within the city limits. But the major industry in the Hagerstown area was farming. There were cows everywhere. Corn everywhere.
You think I'm kidding? Look at this vintage photo from August 23, 1984. That there is vintage Cumberland Valley. It was so pretty.
Two scourges have descended on the Hagerstown vicinity. The first is bedroom suburb sprawl. Thousands and thousands and thousands of acres of farmland have disappeared under the onslaught of ugly subdivisions. And as those eyesores multiplied, the grand old farmhouses on the land got ripped down.
It gets worse.
Lately Hagerstown has revived its reputation as the "Hub City." Two major freeways intersect there, Interstates 81 and 70.
You know what you really don't want? You really don't want to live near a freeway.
Have you seen those big, ugly Amazon warehouses? Guess what they need to be near? Ding ding ding ding! Yes! A freeway!
And so there is now a new building boom going on where I grew up. Thousands and thousands and thousands of acres of farmland are being bulldozed and turned into HUGE GODDAMN WAREHOUSES. Folks, we are talking about the razing of farmhouses that were there during the Civil War. In favor of Carvana auto storage facilities and Amazon and Walmart warehouses.
Of course there's a hue and cry when yet another venerable farmhouse (often crafted with native stone) becomes the target of the greedy corporate barbarians. So you know what the barbarians do? They deliberately knock the house down and leave a pile of rubble just to make a point. Sometimes they pull down the house months before any construction begins. Because they can.
I always loved the Cumberland Valley. And it is large enough that portions of it won't be maimed. But the scenic areas where I grew up, near the major highways, well. They are now either crammed with ugly housing or ruined with mile-wide warehouses.
My poor sister still lives there. She spends her days driving around the counties, taking photos of the farmhouses that are about to be torn down. More power to her. I can't imagine doing that. It's easier to stay away.
The moral of this sermon is simple. If you live near a highway, move now! You could wind up staring at an Amazon warehouse and the trucks that move its goods. As opposed to that quaint antebellum farmhouse with its outbuildings and barns. Put your home on the market now, before it's too late. You don't want to watch concrete smother your beloved valley.