Change is rarely gradual -- it usually comes in waves

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Posted 4/19/16 (Tue)

Whines & Roses
By Cecile Wehrman

I’ve always enjoyed history and Crosby’s history in particular. But maybe ‘history’ isn’t the right word for what draws me in about seeing the changes the world -- and our little corner of it -- goes through.
I used to think, at least until the oil boom came along, that history was a series of gradual changes over many decades. I pictured those changes in my mind, like those timelines in my textbooks of old, only with pictures. One timeline might have “travel” -- showing the changes from horse and buggy, to automobile, to air plane to space ship.
As I worked on Crosby’s “Headlines in History” book in 2004, I developed similar notions about the history in our small communities. We can all picture what Crosby looked like in pioneer days -- the flat wooden facades -- some slightly ornate -- tacked in front of a pitched roof structure that otherwise would look like a house and the wide dirt streets.
Fast forward a few decades and there are noticeable changes -- cars have replaced the horses and in many cases, buildings are made of brick. 
Yet, one need only observe an old photograph a short time before noticing signs of businesses that have long since closed. If you look at a picture from the 1940s in Crosby and see a sign for “Werges Jewelry” you might think, hmm, where did they go? Why did they close? 
You might also look back at a photo from the 1980s and notice the name “Crosby Drug” on a store front. Pretty soon, Crosby Drug will have a new sign and one name you won’t see on Crosby’s Main Street is J. Co. Drug. It was named after the ‘J’ in Jacobson -- for Pharmacist I.J. and his wife, Bev, who retired last week.
Tim Joyce of Tioga, one of the partners in the group of investors helping to ensure Crosby keeps a Main Street pharmacy explains that the decision to change J. Co. Drug to Crosby Drug is because it’s always advantageous to get a town’s name into the name of a business. At the same time, it may seem a little funny to those of us in Crosby who remember another business that used to be called Crosby Drug. 
Even that business, though, was actually known as Neumann Drug for nearly as many years. The old Crosby Drug closed in 2005.
The business that became J. Co. Drug used to be called Easton Drug and was located across the street from its present location. No Eastons live in Crosby anymore. Confusing?
Someone looking back through Crosby’s history might overlook the fact there was no Crosby Drug between 2005 and 2016 and make some erroneous assumptions.
As I visited at J. Co. Drug last week, what struck me the most was how change in our communities does not occur over some long timeline of gradual evolution -- but with a series of rapid, overnight changes.
When Bev and I.J. ended work Friday, a 43-year history of ownership and service concluded.
Even more suddenly, when Mr. K’s Steakhouse, Lounge and Bottleshop closed Wednesday, April 6, no one knew it would be for the last time. An early morning fire struck the next day and another nearly 40-year history of business concluded.
Time marches on -- not in slow motion -- but in surprising, sometimes shocking ways. History shows us, thank goodness, that something new usually replaces the old. 
Still we can’t help missing the old -- and appreciating the mom and pop operators who made their living making a life of serving us.