A few weeks ago I stood outside of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Clements and watched, listened and waited as a group of about 20 parishioners did the same. Many of them were wondering aloud what they were going to see when the 1951 cornerstone was removed from the building.
The group stood in a semicircle watching Stuart Carleton of Blue Earth Environmental Company as he cut out the cornerstone.
Some surmised about what would be inside of the cornerstone, with a few joking about the riches that awaited.
As I stood there I could not help but think about an event from the past when a secret vault connected to Al Capone had been discovered. An entire TV show was dedicated to opening the vault, and at the end everyone who had sat and watched went away disappointed.
There was nothing.
I smiled briefly looking at the folks who had come wondering what they would say if there was nothing inside.
Then the cornerstone was completely removed, a copper box pried open and the contents revealed. There was a stack of financial statements, a letter and a newspaper among the items that had been placed in the box more than five decades earlier.
One has to wonder how many of the people who were there in the 1950s guessed when that box would be opened and what people of the future would think about what they discovered.
I have seen more than my share of buildings demolished in recent years, and I feel a little sad each time a piece of our past ends up in a pile of rubble.
I had the chance to talk with Stuart Carleton about the demolition project. I have a lot of respect for people like him who have a level of respect for the buildings they are razing and the people behind them. He also said having a cornerstone opening ceremony provides an opportunity for people to say their goodbyes.
I hadn’t really thought about that connection as I stood there and watched that group of people knowing that piece of history which had been so much of their lives would soon be gone.
Years from now there will be a generation of people who never set foot in that church, and the only connection they will have to the building will be the stories of the past, a few documents from a cornerstone and whatever other commemorative elements are left.
For me, it is similar with people.
There are some who make a positive impact on the lives of others, and even after they are gone they will be remembered.
One of them I believe whose memory will live on for a long time died recently.
His name is Donald, and I know plenty of people in the community who were saddened when they heard the news that he had passed away.
Donald was a unique character that I will forever remember as the man of many questions.
Whenever you met Donald he would immediately begin his inquisition about you and your family, and he seemed to have this innate ability to discern things about you as he continued his query.
I have told many people Donald missed his calling as an investigative reporter.
I will miss Donald, but I won’t forget him.