If you work at a place that has been around for a long time and in an industry is not known for quickly chewing up people and spitting them out, you may have a number of old timers about. You know, the guy down the hall who has been working there since the 70s and should have retired a decade ago, but hasn’t because this is all he knows. Those are the folks with seniority, with lots of institutional memory, but if they are an asset or burden really comes down to the individual.
I thought of this during a portion of the last BACA meeting I attended. There was the perennial “we should respect the old-timers” discussion that came up. Yes, some neighbors helped make the neighborhood what it is, but there are also scores of people who also made the neighborhood a better place who have since moved on, and a bunch of lumps who at best have been neutral assets and at their worst helping hold the neighborhood back, who never left.
It’s a great injustice to have the lumps receive the credit of those who did positive work.
Jim Berry, former ANC and former BACA president moved on to Bates in the 80s maybe and moved out in the 21st century, he deserves a lot of credit. That man worked hard. Very hard for the residents of the northern half of Truxton Circle and parts of Bloomingdale. So hard I doubted he had a personal life. I have not encountered anyone since who was as dedicated and caring as Mr. Berry.
On my own street we have a range of hard neighborhood workers and useless lumps. We’ve also had people in the 15 years I’ve been here who have come did well, pitched in, started something, be the right man/woman at the right place/time, and move on. Miss Becky, Emil, Kelly, Liz, and Paul are the names of a few of those who came to my street, actively did their part to make it better, and moved on.
There are also those who did a lot of activist work for the neighborhood when they were younger or working or whatever and have faded in the background. I haven’t seen Mary Ann Wilmer lately, I know she’s still around. Nor some of that crowd of older women (who I’d complain about) whose gift was constantly complaining and calling the police. Newbies can be a little bit too tame in calling the cops, so the older women’s persistence was how they helped. I feel obligated to mention a neighbor, she and Miss Becky got me involved with BACA, and an accident and it’s super long road to recovery has kept her at home. She is one of those neighbors who deserves a lot of credit but isn’t getting it because someone else is swiping it up.