Commonwealth Journal

Columns

October 5, 2013

Our new Fountain Square: Change can be beautiful

If time is a journey, then the toll we pay to pass through it is change.
We see it in the wrinkles in our skin that weren’t there yesterday. We see it in the shifts in values and ideas we undergo as a society, each of which seems to come so naturally to the next generation and so painfully to those prior. We hear it in music that sounds different than that which tunes our memories, in the gadgets with which we play, in the very ways we use to communicate with one another.
Perhaps most concretely, we see the price of change in our community. In the physical buildings that go up and come down, perhaps even within a single lifetime. In the places we shop in and gather. In even the very hearts of our towns.
Friday’s dedication of the new Fountain Square in the center of downtown Somerset is nothing less than a symbol of this momentous tide of change that washes over us every year, every day of our lives. It stands in testimony to the transformation our community experiences on time’s toll road, and sends a message: Change can be as lovely as it is scary.
I will admit, I was resistant in many ways to this change. All the time I spent growing up in Somerset, the square as it was — the fountain as it had formerly flowed — was a mainstay. A source of consistency and comfort.
The streams of water sprang skyward perhaps more meagerly than they do now, but that was just their way. Sen. John Sherman Cooper stood proudly at the front entrance, looking west down Mt. Vernon Street. The simple brick circle housing the fountain was flanked on either side by a quaint stone picnic table. I can remember grabbing McDonald’s food and meeting friends at those tables under the cover of night in my younger days. The image of that square was painted into the very fabric of my youth.

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