"In most of your articles, you mention your grandfather," I am often told.
"Yes, I do," I respond. How can you not mention at every opportunity a man who helped mold you and who taught you the importance of family and community?
My grandfather, W.W. "Pick" Pickard, owned the Ben Franklin in the Augusta Plaza for many years. Lots of Augustans remember him. Lots of Augustans worked for him in their teens. He may be the reason people have been known to catch a perona at the Augusta Lake. And the memories don't stop there.
Devout Christian. Devout Lions Club member (100 percent attendance award). Caregiver to my grandmother. Father of four. Grandfather of nine. Owner of The Idea Shop in Downtown Augusta. A realtor. A bus driver. A whatever-paid-the-bills kind of guy.
My mom said that because I talk about him often, he will never truly be gone. When my cousins graduated from high school, I found something of his as a gift to them. At my cousin's bridal shower, I gave her a love note from my grandmother to my grandfather. At every opportunity, I remind my family, my daughters and my husband of my grandfather and my grandmother.
It gets old, maybe, for those around me. But it's how I cope twenty years after losing one of the greatest human beings I have ever known. Without those "remember when" comments, we wouldn't.
We live in a progressive society. It's a dot. com kind of world. Facebook. Twitter. Online streaming news. I-this. I-that. Who has time to "remember when?" But without that, the old Prairie State Bank clock would have been forgotten and therefore not refurbished. Without that, The Augusta Daily Gazette would no longer be publishing local news that matters to us. Without that, Downtown Augusta and the businesses therein would not have committed to refurbishing their storefronts, sidewalks, streets . . . not to new-age, high-tech but to the look of yesteryears.
The motto of the Augusta Historical Society is: "We cannot improve our tomorrows without first understanding our yesterdays." Our yesterdays define us. The way business was done. The way we greeted one another - with a handshake instead of a text message. Progress is important and vital to our survival but "back when" still has its place.
Remember when Parks Motors was in Downtown Augusta? Remember Cecil's Jewelry when Cecil ran it? Remember when Downtown Augusta had a meat market? And a candy shop? Remember when there was a café in Cooper Drug? Remember when almost every store in the 500 block of State was filled with businesses? Remember when almost every business owner stopped by at The Idea Shop to have morning coffee with my grandfather?
And I applaud the businesses who have withstood the test of time and have remained in Downtown Augusta for decades - Strickler's Shoes, Cooper Drug, Miller's Five, Augusta Family Dentistry and maybe some I've missed.
Those businesses and people of yesteryears are who we should consider when we progress. It is important to remember so that while we grow, we keep in mind what our founders wanted for our community. After all, our strength comes from our roots.
Nothing pleases me more than when people say, "I remember the Dime Store Man." I do too.
So, while I turn off my smart phone, charge my MP3 player, check my Facebook and Twitter accounts, power off my notebook and call it a night, I think how confused Gramp would be with all these things. But I know he would be proud that no matter how high-tech I get, I still remember when.