Walking around Sedona, AZ., I saw a town that had changed in the decades since I’d been there. It had less of what was charming and more of what was not. What was once an anthology of artists had morphed into a pastiche of pizzerias.
I’ve had this experience before, most memorably in New Hope, PA. Just out of college I spent two months teaching a reading course at Solebury School in New Hope, PA. My room that overlooked the Delaware River north of the area where it was navigable by commercial ships. The town had a few shops, studios, and a coffee shop. I remember the charming canal that once had mule-drawn barges. I visited New Hope ten years ago. There were hundreds on shops on every main street as well as streets I’d forgotten. Now you can buy fudge, kites, kaleidoscopes, and SPF 45 sunscreen.
Déjà vu means something is familiar even though you’ve never experienced it. Does it have a cousin-word: something that it unfamiliar even though you have experienced it? Déjà huh?
I had that feeling in Jerome, AZ—a town on the way to Sedona from Prescott. What started life as a wicked, two-fisted mining town died after a billion dollars worth of copper, silver, and gold were excavated. Dormant but for 50 people or so for several decades it morphed into an artists’ colony. Today it appears to be a thriving town of 400 with many shops devoted to crafts from clever to gallery quality. But the curio shops and quick-bite eateries are sprouting. The day I visited, there were a fair number of people walking the streets, but in the shops they seemed to be keeping their wallets closed. The only shop that was doing serious business was the ice cream store.
I suspect I’d have Deja huh? if I returned to St Thomas where I lived for a year in the 60s. Then it had 17,000 residents, a couple of cruise ships visited each week, and six sailboats you could charter—one built of steel, the rest of wood.
Last I heard the population topped 100,000. You could find a dozen cruise ships filling the harbor on any given day, scores of slick fiberglass sailing bunkhouses.
I imagine I’d have deja huh? had I ever gotten to Sausalito in the 50s when I first heard of it.
On one corner of Sausalito, where the town’s artistic heritage thrives: the ICB building on Gate Five Road, (http://www.icbbuilding.com/) with 150 studios of painters, fabric artists, sculptors, jewelers, and photographers.
Some towns I’ve only heard of and I am not sure what I will find: the arts and crafts community of Gatlinburg, TN. What will I find in Traverse City, MI?
What is in the McDowell Colony in Peterborough, NH—reputed to be the first planned artists’ colony in the U.S.
I look forward to the comments of the eclectic readers of this blog as they share their memories and discoveries.