I remember back when I was growing up in the ’60s, we used to go to the Mayflower Theater on Saturday afternoons. Back then, it was one big theater with a giant screen in front. The place would be packed with kids going to the matinee.
I particularly remember going there to see such cinematic legends as “Soylent Green” and “The Last Man on Earth.” In the first movie, I think the government was feeding the world by turning people into food. I have had an aversion to eating green food ever since. In the second movie, some kind of disease turns the entire human race into a mob of vampires, and Vincent Price goes around draped in garlic trying to kill them all off, even though apparently they are already dead. Or something like that. Pretty creepy for an 8-year-old boy.
Even creepier if you had to go the bathroom, which was downstairs and was a perfect place for undead people to be hiding out. I asked for garlic at the concession stand before going to the bathroom and all I got was a funny look.
I bring this up because last week I went to hear an artist talk at the Mayflower. The building is now an arts center that hosts all kinds of events, none of which as far as I know include the undead or soylent green. It really is a great use for that building. When I was a kid, I thought the Mayflower Theater would be there forever. Things don’t work that way, though, and thankfully someone has found a new use for the building.
I’m not sure if I remember a time in Troy when so many things, at least on the surface, were changing. The old Hobart Brothers factory is gone, with only a field of grass where it once stood. Hopefully, something creative and maybe even useful will take its place. Let’s just hope it’s not an auto parts store, pizza place and hair salon.
Just over the levee, the renovation of the Treasure Island area is taking place. I remember when there was a softball diamond there; I can’t quite visualize what it will look like when the work is finished, but I’m hoping for the best.
The old Donaldson Ford building has joined the Doghouse on South Market Street in the land of the undead buildings. It proves that there really can be addition by subtraction.
And more change is on the way: the city is purchasing the field next to Duke Park for future recreational use. I know some people are upset about this but you have to think ahead and years from now a lot of people who live in Troy will be thrilled that land belongs to the city.
The bottom line to all this is that if there is one thing that is certain, even in a town like Troy, it is change. I’m not suggesting all change is for the good – I still think it’s a change for the worse that someone filled in the canal years ago. We could be a regular Venice with little canal boats attracting tourists from all over if we just would have kept the canal. Of course, some people would complain about the cost of the bridges. Not to mention the mosquitoes.
But I digress. When I look back to the 1960s and then compare it to today, there are a lot of positive changes. Downtown Troy is a way better looking place today. Troy now has some nice bike paths, better restaurants and even a better jail if you’re into things like that. And yes, the new Adams Street bridge is way better than the old one.
The city may have lost a little bit of its neighborly feel, but that’s not unusual. In the old days in Troy, everyone knew everyone else. When I was in junior high, it seemed like everyone in town knew who I was. This actually can be a real disadvantage for a junior high boy, so even that change isn’t all bad.
I do miss Kerg’s Bakery, but it burned down so what can you do?
I guess my point (if I actually have one) is that it’s good to keep things from the good old days, but it’s also good to move ahead. We can thank our Troy ancestors for having the vision to build a cool courthouse, to plan wide, organized streets, to lay out a beautiful town square and to use the space along the river for recreational purposes. I hope future generations will be able to think about us with the same sense of gratitude.
David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected]