Day’s Verse:
But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever. I will give thanks to You forever, because You have done it, and I will wait on your name, for it is good, in the presence of Your godly ones.

Yesterday Ian and I went to the Worcester Common Outlets (WCO, not to be confused with the WTO) in a vain attempt to purchase power converters for the outlets in London and rechargable batteries for my camera. I say a vain attempt because the mall has been gutted since the last time we visited; its broad empty halls echo with workmen’s voices and the harsh clamor of heavy tools. Vast tracts of plastic drape across halls, blocking passage, while hastily constructed wooden barriers prevent passage up the escalators. A few signs taped to the plastic, or slid into stands, show optimistic artistic renditions of the New, Improved WCO. There, everything grows lush and green; trees flower year-round, as do daffodils and young women. Happy, multiethnic people walk the streets in those pictures as shiny, modern glass buildings stretch proudly to the sky. You almost expect to see people holding proud signs:


Could this utopia really come down to earth? Is it possible that a couple million dollars sucked into construction could transform Worcester from the slummy, crime-ridden, decaying industrial wreck it is now into a middle-Mass paradise? Will people come to Worcester as a vacation destination, with signs reading:

Worcester, Heart of New England
or perhaps Worcester: The NYC Next Door
rather than Worcester, Armpit of the Northeast

Call me cynical, skeptical, pessimistic, or realistic; I’ll stick to my guns. A new coat of paint and some new roads won’t transform downtown Worcester and it won’t revitalize the place. The city needs a new population, an infusion of jobs, and non-crappy rented housing for starters.

What’s the most slummy, unpleasant city you’ve visited/lived in? What was so bad about it?

– KF –

3 thoughts on “Not On Your Life

  1. When I was in the military, I spent a fair amount of time in Biloxi, Mississippi — “the armpit of the South.” It purported to be a beach resort, but like Worcester, was mainly a worn down has-been. The water was so polluted no one would go swimming, and the “beautiful, antebellum homes” in the “nice” part of town were all falling apart. We all pretty much stuck to the base.

  2. 2nd story:
    On our Big Trip in 95 (or were it ’96?), we had just come through Chicago after visiting old friends in upper Michigan. Things were looking so bad it was getting scary — this was driving on the freeway mind you — when I saw a sign saying “Welcome to Gary, Ind.” I sped up and kept going. It looked like East Berlin before the wall came down.

  3. Oh, man, Gary Indiana. There’s a city to give Worcester a run for its money. When Jess and I drove through there on our cross-country drive last winter her dad told us, “Don’t even stop in Indiana. Just drive straight through.” So we did, fast, because we felt unsafe even in our car on the freeway.

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