Over the Christmas holidays I had the strangest dream. Just before drifting off to sleep, I was watching the holiday classic movie "It's a Wonderful Life." I try to view this every year to help me remember what is truly important in life, and to refresh my sense of gratitude.
About the time Clarence the angel decided to grant George Bailey his wish that he had never been born, my fatigue must have won out, and I found myself trudging through several inches of snow. I was on a street that looked familiar, though different somehow in ways that became more apparent as I turned up my collar and pressed into the wind.
I was almost certain I was heading west on Broadway in Jim Thorpe, but the empty storefronts, boarded up windows, trim work desperate for paint, uneven sidewalks riddled with cracks, and patchwork repairs made with stucco, plywood, tarpaper, and even vinyl tarps that billowed with each gust of the frigid night air filled me with an uneasiness.
The few businesses on the street had garish and brightly lighted signs hanging over the sidewalks that flashed their offerings. Several pawnshops and taverns advertising 'live dancers inside' were all that I could find. This was not the Jim Thorpe I knew, and I sat down on a porch step in total turmoil. I didn't yet know that part of my December evening was a dream.
With head in hands, I was ready to either scream or weep, when suddenly I heard bells playing a holiday tune that echoed throughout the town. As I raised my head and turned towards the music coming from the clock tower of the courthouse, I witnessed the awesome transformation of downtown Jim Thorpe back into a scene not unlike a Currier & Ives illustration that just begged for a horse drawn sleigh to come riding past all those superbly restored 19th century buildings that once again were filled with festive gift shops, fine restaurants and art galleries.
When I woke up the next morning I recalled the sound of the bells, and a line from the movie I fell asleep to:"Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings." I found myself muttering thank you Agnes McCartney.
It was the late Agnes, and dozens of other visionaries and entrepreneurs that restored this town to it former grandeur, and helped to establish a formidable tourist industry that contributes substantially to the local tax base.
I mentioned gratitude earlier. Being employed here as a result of these accomplishments spares me hours of time, and the expenses of commuting to a more metropolitan area every day. I am counting my blessings - are you?