For anyone not from the coal region of Pennsylvania, the notion that a hospital being auctioned off and an old-school being knockdown may not mean much..
But it meant a lot for me yesterday.
It just so happened that Black Friday this year was filled with the voyage back in time, to the deepest and darkest pits of my memory.
I was born in the Ashland Regional Medical Center in September 1980. Today, that building, most recently known as St. Catherine’s Medical Center, was auctioned off and all of the possessions within it were liquidated— bankruptcy occurred last year that caused the closure of St. Catherine’s and the unemployment of almost 200 workers
Then came the other vision, I knew that Immaculate Heart Elementary School in Girardville PA would be knocked down but was still shocked to see have you equipment demolishing the school today as I drove by. I went to that school starting in the sixth grade, in those mid-1990s when everything seemed great.
So much of my memories are now gone.
The town I was born in, Centralia, is empty. Every school prior to the university I attended are all closed. The hospital I was born in.. gone.
It would be selfish to make this situation about myself, there were many people born in the hospital over the past 100 years and with its rich history, many people died there to. And as for the school, there are thousands of people who have memories of that building, the one ripped down today.
There seems to be a deeper meaning to these two these events taking place on Black Friday, while everyone was out shopping until they were dropping, old memories, and laughter and sadness, were wiped clean.
It is also a signal sign that the once great cold region of eastern Pennsylvania is releasing a deep sigh of death. You cannot drive through the towns of Schuylkill County and escape it. There is no growth, there is no exceptionalism, and there is only a melancholy sadness for the past and constant attempt to keep a spirit of something from the late 1930s alive—a time when the area boomed with wealth and culture. There are few signs of those times now..
That of course does not mean there is not hope, nor does not mean that changes will not come to benefit the area eventually. But right now on this day, this year, buildings are dilapidated, structures are unsound, and beacons of things that once were are being demolished or sold off to the lowest bidder.
And yes, childhood memories from birth through Catholic grade school are being quickly extinguished because of either profiteering hospital owners or legal liabilities of the Catholic Church
There is no escaping that truth, no matter what coal mine you try to use as shelter..