When I was a kid growing up in Enterprise in the 1950s and 60s, it was a much different place than now. All the storefronts were occupied and believe it not, sometimes it was hard to find parking on Main Street.
At one time Enterprise had parking meters on downtown streets. With four clothing stores, a five and dime, a bakery, four restaurants, a furniture store, three hardware stores, a meat locker, two pharmacies, three car dealerships, five gas stations, four bars, eight churches, a jeweler, a stationary store, a photography shop, several lawyers, doctors and dentists, a musical instrument store, a record store, several hair salons, a barbershop, a bookstore, a hotel, at least four motels, a bank, and a movie theater and drive-in with movies every weekend, it was thriving. My parents and grandparents said in their younger days it was even more bustling.
In the days of my childhood, a person could come into town and take care of any shopping or business he or she had. At Christmas I remember going shopping with my grandmother and in about four hours, after visiting almost every store in town, all shopping was taken care of.
People were much more social than they are now. All churches were packed on Sundays, bars and restaurants were filled to capacity (and sometimes overflowing) especially on Friday and Saturday nights. There were Lions, Elks, Eagles, Masons, and Odd Fellows meetings throughout the month. There were dances at the Cloverleaf Hall. There were gatherings in which the entire town showed up: Fourth of July parades, high school sporting events were filled to capacity, and yearly Christmas parties at the Vista Theater. I am kind of rambling but I think you get my point.
Now there are times when Enterprise looks like a ghost town with maybe a truck or two on Main Street with a good share of store fronts being empty. I personally believe that Enterprise can again become a vibrant center of commerce and social activity, although it can’t be the same town it once was.
These are stressful times. I am a naturopathic physician and when I am not in the county, I work as a primary care doctor in Vermont. I have about 1,000 primary care patients and have tested quite a few of them for COVID-19. Many have tested positive and quite a few more with symptoms, were not able to be tested. Besides the dangers associated with contracting COVID-19, we have to deal with stay at home orders.
In spite of all this stress or maybe because of it, people have really stepped up in very positive ways. Parents are spending more time with their kids, we all are making more contact with friends and relatives, we have slowed down a little and are reprioritizing what we want from life. I have seen many more acts of kindness in these last few months. People are just plain nicer.
I know people in Wallowa County already excel in these things. I love that when I come into town on a five minute errand, my wife knows to give me an extra hour, in case I run into some old friend that I need to catch up with. Still I think Wallowa County has suffered some of the hurried pace of modern life and many of you reading this are grateful for the opportunity to slow down a little.
Soon we will be resuming some kind of normalcy. The big question is, when this is all behind us; are we going to be able to maintain the slower pace, the quality time spent with family and friends, the increased kindness to our neighbors or even strangers? All of these are as much a part of what a healthy town is as are busy shops. A healthy town is a place to meet and enjoy other people’s company, a place to celebrate, a place to have fun. This is the Enterprise I hope to see.
Thank you all,