When I hear one time Wallace natives talking about our hometown they give a glowing testimonial to the beauty, the schools, and the charm and the unique character of the town, but then all say " but I would not want to live there anymore because it has changed so much."
Yes, it has changed.Our Wallace is, at least on the surface, no longer here. Real stores and real industry have been replaced by 2nd hand stores and something that I despise-tourism. Wallace sold its collective soul and history for petty tourist dollars.
It is sad that Wallace sold out so cheaply. It is just like--well, I guess it comes about naturally, after all, Wallace was renowned for what was sold on Cedar Street. Can't we at least keep some of it for ourselves? Let's not sell our souls.
The tourists with their cameras clicking, the kids with their runny noses and snotty attitudes, and the once proud locals hawking their past like street vendors at a dirty street carnival is not the way that I choose to remember the town that I loved and grew up in.
The people who made Wallace what it was, a great mining camp, were real people with real lives and real families. The blood that spilled deep in the earth was not Hollywood ketchup, The tears that the families shed for their lost father and husband who the unforgiving mountain of gems periodically sacrificed to the gods were real tears of sorrow. The muck was real, the pain was real, The broken limbs were real, and the sweat was real.
How about the rewards? How real were they? The kind of reward for the pain, the tears, the broken limbs, the shattered dreams. and the muck cannot be defined by the measure used by corporate America and the ever growing sense of entitlement of today. No, the rewards are probably not understood by the tourists who gawk at the old buildings, the rotting frames of the old mines that dot the hillsides, rising up from the sides of mountains like ghost ships in the oceans.
The rewards were modest pay, the satisfaction of pushing mind and body to the maximum limits, and most of all, the joys of living the life style that only those who lived there can understand. The tourists will get their pictures, their souvenirs, and their vacation memories, but they will never truly get what it was really like, what it felt like, and even what it really looked like.
Those things can never, never, be purchased in a tourist shop.