Letter #19: 1/27/21
Stories of A Lifetime Presents: “The Letters”
Community correspondence sparked from the isolating 2020 pandemic focused on easing the burden of loneliness.
Hello, my name is Holly. I am 41 years old and a single mom of a 10-year-old boy named Easton. His father passed away from cancer three years ago. I enjoy writing, I love history, and I like DIY home projects. I miss my grandma, and I know that if she were alive, she’d be so happy to receive a letter. It wouldn’t matter if the writing was profound or merely about what I ate for dinner, it would make her smile. So, my friend, I’d like to write some letters to you. It will help me feel useful and less lonely, and I hope the letters help you and that they spark you to reminisce about your own life, love, and good times.
January 27th, 2021
Do you ever feel like some things never change and other things are changing too fast? What types of changes have you seen in your community over the course of the past ten years or the course of your lifetime? Some of the changes can be quite profound. When I think of the stories my grandma used to tell me about Kenosha, I feel happy that some of those landmarks still exist but also sad that so many of the locations have long been lost to progress. I laugh thinking of how my parents and grandparents used to give directions: “turn right by the old five and dime” or “it’s where old St. Peter’s used to be.” As time passed and fewer people remembered where the former buildings had once stood, their directions needed an overhaul. Has that happened to you, too?
I’m a bit sad, my friend, at the rate of speed at which some buildings are rendered useless. Long gone are the days where buildings stood for centuries and were repurposed and remodeled. Most choose the cost-effective method of demolition and rebuilding. Is there a special location that you wish still existed?
In 1980 (the year I was born), the Pleasant Prairie Power Plant went into service. My Papa (step-father) worked at the “old” power plant and was so excited to be a part of this new state-of-the-art facility. It was clean, cutting edge, and enormous compared to the old facility. P4 (as it was dubbed) became a landmark for the region as the smoke stack could be seen for miles and the goliath building stood out on the open prairie. Over the decades, a corporate park grew around the plant, but P4 still dominated.
My Papa worked rotating shifts at this plant that he was so proud to be a part of. I would miss him and every time my mom and I drove over the train tracks on Hwy 50 she’d have me look south. There were flashing lights on the smoke stack, and she’d say that, “Papa is in the tower. Look! He’s going to wink the lights just for you.” Apparently, I was a very gullible child and believed that in the era long before cell phones that Papa knew I was looking at that exact moment and winked at me. But I tell you, friend, EVERY time I drove on that overpass, even after he retired in 1994 and especially after he passed away in 2007, I glanced south until I saw the tower lights wink- just for me.
Now this big, once cutting-edge building has been deemed obsolete. The cloud factory (as my nieces called it) no longer makes clouds and there are no more winking lights. P4 is being pieced apart, and now my directions of “look for the power plant” will need to change, too. There will be future generations of Kenoshans that won’t know where this employer of thousands once stood. What other buildings does this bring to mind for you? Progress can be beautiful, though. Onward and upward! Wink
If you’d like to write back to me, you are very welcome to.
I will get a PO Box soon and let you know what that is. For now, maybe someone could help you scan and email your letters back to me at Holly@StoriesofALifetimeLLC.com. Otherwise, maybe you’ll find it helpful to just journal your thoughts and write them down without sending them. You do what is helpful to you, friend.
Do you ever feel like some things never change and other things are changing too fast? What types of changes have you seen in your community over the course of the past ten years or the course of your lifetime? Have you had to change how you give directions? Is there a special location that you wish still existed? What other buildings does the closing and demolition of the power plant bring to mind for you?