New not always better

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By W.B. Evans

I have often heard it said that “change is good.”

In the last 70-plus years, I have found out that some promises of change backfire.

New ain’t always better.

As soon as my daughter’s broken leg heals, I’m gonna ask her if the “new” leg is an improvement over the old one.

I’ve been keeping track of the CNN storm that fell on Lancaster.

Seems a lot of changes around town hasn’t done much for regular folks. Streetscape is a big improvement over the old cracked sidewalks and broken curbs. A Main Street stroll with a bit of change in your pocket sure would be nice.

Better still, some enterprising locals might set up some food kiosks on those vacant lots. It’s not Lingle’s, but everything can’t be.

Maybe the local chamber of commerce might consider footing the bill for the necessary electrical/water connections. After all, wouldn’t change like that be good?

However, with the good comes the bad. I just had a good thought, so I gotta have a bad un’ to balance it out.

In old Lancaster, folks got all huffy whenever some new gimmick hit town. Established places don’t like competition.

What they really want is for stuff to stay the same so they don’t have to come up with some changes on their own. 

I guess the man who built the better mouse trap invented those little green tablets you place around your garage. Airplane builders figured the more engines on a plane, the higher it would fly and the more you could carry.

Bless Pete, they soon ran out of wing span, so somebody invented jet engines.

This week in 1972, the Volkswagen “Doodle Bug” passed the Model T as the best selling car of all time.

In the late 1960s, Ford started hawking cars with this catchy, five-word phrase, “Ford has a better idea.”

Now they weren’t the only ones. Shucks, growing up, I always had bunches of ideas, but most of them weren’t quite that good.

But, I will share this one with you.

Mr. Henry Ford’s first two batches of automobiles were named Model T. For some reason a new and improved version came out in the early 1930s and he named it the Model A.

I always thought that was backward. They taught us is school that A comes before T, except in Detroit.

Now, the Model T came in two colors; black and black. Daddy said it was for good reason. Mr. Ford was loaded up with barrels of black paint, so it was a matter of usin’ what he had.

By 1931, he had gone through it and let the boys painting his new cars use some new and different colors.

I reckon he felt change would be good.

At the time, Mama and Daddy were living and working in Pennsylvania and they got word that an addition to their family should be popping up about the second month in 1933.

Daddy was “Old Lancaster,” which meant he wasn’t too keen about his offspring not being born in “God’s Country.” 

He was also pretty attached to his 1931 Model A coupe, which he had nurtured for almost two years.

Breaking the black Henry Ford mold, this smart little vehicle was painted a light mauve color with darker stripes.

About the only thing Mr. Ford wouldn’t change was the yellow painted spiked wheels. Evidently, the Ford folks had gotten a good deal on the yellow paint, too. 

Now at the time, I-95 wasn’t even a dream on a future president’s agenda.

So, Mama and Daddy and me (well almost), loaded down the rumble seat and made it home to Chesterfield Avenue and good old Lancaster the best way we could.

That Pennsylvania doctor was right, I hit the deck hollering in February.

As the years passed and I outgrew my britches, things changed.

The one thing that remained constant was Daddy’s care of that Model A coupe. He kept it covered up, even when it was parked beneath the lean-to attached to the big garage.

One summer’s day after putting a brand new finish on my Radio Flyer, I had almost a pint of Chinese Red paint left.

Then like a streak of lightning, I felt “change” was in the air. The light bulb over my head was burning brightly.

I walked over to the garage, pulled back the cover from the Model A and stared at those Ford-yellow wire rims. If anything was ever in need of  desperate change, it was those spoked wheels.

I was completely overwhelmed. Change was pressing me to bring about change to my daddy’s much-beloved coupe. There was no time to waste.

Finally, all five wheels were transformed from a dull yellow to a bright red. Only then, did my actions come to mind.

Would Daddy be as ready for the change as I was for making it?

Oh, well, I covered the coupe and awaited my fate.

It wasn’t until Saturday when Daddy took the car down to Uncle Walter’s 

Pure Oil station for an oil change that the red wheels would be noticed.

To tell the truth, I did have some doubts about that change. The outcome was in doubt, but the reaction from the good ol’ boys who hung around the filling station was positive.

They thought Daddy’s new red wheels really looked good.

I had made it through this episode and learned from it.

Change is good and it can be a better idea, but it can be scary.

You have to be ready for change so it doesn’t come back to haunt you.  

I think it’s about time for Lancaster’s leaders to learn that same thing so we’re all high and dry when the rain starts pouring down.