Sanford Burning: A Native’s Perspective
It's not everyday you look at your phone and realize your town's on fire. Yet, this was the case last Friday as I scrolled Facebook after returning home.
Now I realize writing 'my town' is somewhat out of nostalgia. I've long moved out of Sanford, which actually became a city a years ago. Plus, despite living within an hour, I'm only there when visiting my dad. Yet, there I was, bolting to Sanford seconds after completing an already long ride home. I had to catch the building burning. What was going on? Sanford's on fire...again?
Perhaps that's a little dramatic. An area near Sanford actually WAS on fire in 1947, but that mainly missed the populated downtown area. There was the early 80's New Years Day fire in the center of town . Also, there have been a long list of other headline worthy fires. The ballpark where Babe Ruth hit a home run which comes to mind. Yes, Sanford has a checkered past. Geraldo stopped by in the 80's after satanic rituals in the same mill complex resulted in a death of a young girl. Later, the program Hard Copy paid the city a visit over a controversy with the police department. Geraldo AND Hard Copy? Who else can lay claim to that 1-2 punch, right? See, Sanford's like a family member YOU can't pick on, but is fair game for the natives and residents.
Watching the old place up in flames brought me to a mix of sadness/bewilderment/anger. With a little age, it's natural to put a little more thought into what came before. Regardless of its current state, or even the story which got it there; can you imagine spending your working life in one place, and suddenly watching it crumble? I thought of the generations who spent days and nights providing for families, gossiping about coworkers, and carrying out life. The mills were also an intricate cog woven into the fabric of the history of Sanford, the "town which refused to die." Far from trivializing, the parallels of an early episode of The Simpsons where Bart chopped off the head of Jebdiah Springfield came to mind. In the episode, the suspect finally grasped the totality of what he had done, and it was far from the motivation of the inexcusable crime. Almost perfectly, I had been listening to The Killers Sam's Town that afternoon. The line in "When You Were Young" 'and sometimes you close your eyes and see the place where you used to live' popped up. It's true, and what you see is far different than anyone who's only seen that place through video bites with on the news.