Better or worse?
By Josh Resnek
Many Everett folks from all walks of life who have lived in the city for the past decade or longer, have very firm ideas about the condition of the city.
Many say the city is worse off than it was ten years ago.
They complain it is more crowded, more difficult to park and drive around, and more dangerous.
Many more say it was better in the old days, when life was more predictable than it is today, when everyone’s memory point to the entire population paying attention to the law and following rules and regulations and watching out for each other.
Many say Everett is better than it was ten years ago – and they point to all the new real estate development and improvements that have been made. All the parks have been redone. New schools have been built. Road and drainage problems have nearly been erased. The city is clean and orderly.
Each successive generation of people living here and across the nation believe their generation was better than the one that came before.
It is known for a fact all generations are essentially the same – a bit like the tide coming in and the tide going out, the seas rising and the seas falling, the tides and the seas are eternal.
During the past ten years the school population has exploded and is continuing to expand.
The new schools are overcrowded. The teaching institution is taxed to the point of breaking. The school population is diverse, poor, struggling, and most of our public school students cannot read or write with ease and understanding in English or in their native languages.
Compare this situation to say, 1935, 85 years ago.
Nearly every boy and girl matriculating through the Everett public schools could read and write in English. They might have been poor, but they were growing up in a city not free of crime, but free of wild and crazy violence, shootings and stabbings, drug addiction and overdoses.
World War 11 was likely the city’s finest hour.
Thousands from this city served proudly in the armed forces – some with great heroism. Many gave their lives.
These heroes returned to Everett to begin their lives anew – and when they first got back – this place was like heaven. Many veterans returning to their homes and apartments on streets like Hancock and Glendale, Morris Street and Vine, dropped to their knees and kissed the earth before exchanging hugs and tears with their parents and brothers and sisters and neighborhood friends.
After the war was when the place began to metamorphosize, when the grass began to look greener in suburban backyards than it did in crowded and crumbling Everett.
The great exodus began. Thousands moved out. New thousands moved in. Dramatic changes were underway.
The 1950’s, 1960’s and into the 1970’s were decades of decline. Everett was still Everett – great sports and football teams, big families and big dreams. The battle was to get up and to get out. Many did. Many didn’t.
For many residents Everett was as a great a place to be than anywhere else.
The 1980’s morphed into the 1990’s and the 1990’s into the new Century – now 20 years later.
Where are we? Where is the city? What is the feeling?
There is great debate among those who love the place and recall with fondness the old days, when everything about life seemed so orderly and ordained, so seemingly solid and assured, and those who feel the new city springing up today is about the end of the world.
The remainder of the old clash with the new. The two don’t really mix. The old will never mix with the new.
That’s just a fact of life.
So this place is really a split city today, the way our nation is a split nation, they way we are now a country of the very rich and the very poor with the working class at the center struggling to make ends meet.
Is the city a better place today than it was yesterday or yesterday?
I think so.
After all, living here is what you wish to make out of it.
For many, many people this is the city of their mothers and fathers and their grandfathers and grandmothers.
For many others, this is the city that gives them hope they can achieve the American Dream.
Rich or poor, educated or uneducated, happy or sad, residents of this city today are not so different from all the generations that came before. Such is life in Everett.
In the words of Ecclesiastes:
“One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose…The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done; and there is no new thing under the sun.”