Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Park City; yesterday and now...

On a typical 4th July we get asked to come to this or that barbecue. This year was no exception. We accepted a neighbor's invitation and, in the process, met many people we had never seen before. All came to Park City long after us and most of them for vastly different reasons.

They talked a lot about themselves, their possessions, their extravagant lifestyle and their jet-setter's travel schedules. Not only that, but we covered the whole gamut, including of course, this year's elections, their kids and their remarkable achievements. We did hear a lot of things that had superlatives in them, roaring titles and exceptional behaviors, but little of it seemed genuine, disinterested and backed up with good-old common sense.

That's were I began to think: “In 32 years, Park City has changed an awful lot...” And as I closed my eyes, I could still see and feel the simplicity of the life back in the mid 80s. Our friends and neighbors were just like us. Simple folks with basic aspiration, unpretentious, life loving, working people, driving a beat up Subaru or a rickety truck.

We had no particular ambitions for our kids except having them having fun in our wholesome mountains environment. Some Parkites worked in the ski industry, many in construction, others had small businesses and a pretty good number already commuted to the Salt Lake Valley for their job. All houses looked pretty much the same, conversation stayed simple, honest, fun and you were who you were.

Then, in 1990, as Delta Airlines developed Salt Lake City as one of its hub, 500 pilots and flight-attendant households invaded our sleepy little town, pushed real estate prices up and showed us how to live the lives of the jet-set club. Their noise, their behavior and often, their tinge of arrogance, started to tear up the social fabric of what Park City was all about.

Along with this army of airline crew members came the fax machines that enabled many to telecommute between Park City and Los Angeles or Chicago; the world had begun to shrink. Then rich retirees decided to make our little town their playground and threw in their big egos, added more fancy cars to our streets and more mega-houses to our hills.

With them the tone of the conversation began to change and very subtly, the amount of money someone could show or bring to Park City became the new metrics. In other words, the richer you appeared to be, your intellect and charm would match your wealth and you'd get all the adulation you'd deserve. 

This became the new paradigm, yet we didn't buy it, and hopefully, we'll resist doing it till the very end!

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