Dave Richards' Weekly Column in The Woonsocket Call

Dave Richards for February 9th…………

--Just a note of congratulations to the hard-working members of the Northern Rhode Island Council of the Arts for a fine Woonsocket Mardi Gras event. Mardi Gras Queen Tammy Lamberto Roy recovered from her illness of the previous week and seemed to have a great time executing all her Royal duties, including unmasking Mardi Gras King Jace XXII before a total sell-out crowd at the St. Ann Arts and Cultural Center, which, by the way, never looked more festive and congratulations are also in order for Wally Auclair and his crew in adding to the fun with a bright and colorful atmosphere in every corner of the hall.

You’ve no doubt seen the great full-color photos here in The Call over the past few days, but here’s something you might not have known. This year’s King Jace, Woonsocket’s First Gentleman Ed Hunt, and I really fooled a lot of people this year. We had an historically low number of correct guesses in our King Jace Quest contest as a result. In fact, less than thirty people guessed correctly. The winner, drawn from all the correct guesses after the King was unmasked, was Amanda Girard of Providence Street, who ironically was one of the contestants to be Queen of the Mardi Gras. I guess she got a really good look at him during the Coronation Ceremonies.

Anyway, thanks to Ed, who was a wonderful and very high spirited King Jace, for adjusting his personal schedule to be able to accept the duties of Mardi Gras’ King Jace XXII and keeping our little contest going.

--You’ve heard the old saying, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”, I’m sure. I have an observation this week along those lines.

Although I was not alive to see it first hand, I am told by elders and history books that during the 18th and 19th centuries, life in Rhode Island slowed down considerably during the winter months when the snow storms would visit. Other than shovels and good strong backs, about the only organized effort to keep commerce going in much of the state was compacting the snow by hooking up large, wide, wooden boards weighted down by rocks to horses which would drag the boards over the streets of town and tamp down the snow to where you might travel over it.

The wisdom of those ancient people in changing their daily schedules to adapt to the winter weather, however, was replaced in the 20th century by a couple of generations of people who used the machinery and technology of their day to remove the white stuff and attempt to keep life going as if the snow weren’t even a factor.

Now, in these enlightened times of the 21st century, we seem to be adjusting to a hybrid of the two ideas. Never before in my lifetime have I seen so many people be so quick to toss out the daily grind and willingly submit to the vicissitudes of winter weather. And this made me think. What has changed in Rhode Island to cause this welcoming of disruption?

Well, the first thing I see is there are many, many more cars on the roads these days. And they are all more expensive to own and drive. And the consequences of a collision with them are far more costly than it used to be.

The second thing I see is the expense of the technology which makes snow removal possible. Municipal budgets have always been tight. But the costs of sand and salt and diesel fuel to run the trucks has skyrocketed over the past few decades.

And finally, I see an American society which has accepted the idea of working on Sundays and Holidays and at all hours of the days and nights and has cranked up the speed of life in general a little bit more every year until now we take vacations from our jobs to accomplish work we haven’t the time for normally. In this case, an impromptu ‘day off’ for snow is as welcome to the human spirit as a cool glass of water on a hot summer day.

Of course, there are consequences for taking the time off and the resultant reduction in productivity, but you know, I’m not so sure that productivity isn’t actually increased somewhat when we all return to our daily duties refreshed and relieved that we didn’t need to keep the world spinning quite so fast and face the risks of travel in the bad weather the day before.

I wonder if we might finally be getting it right?

--That's what I think. What do you think? Comments to: dave@onworldwide.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.

Thanks for reading.


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