A Generational Difference

Bill Neinast


Generational differences were on vivid display in the local area last week.  The grand openings of two multi million dollar facilities were reminders of how earlier generations accommodated public needs and desires.

A short drive around Washington County will pass monuments to the philosophy of the so called Greatest Generation and earlier generations.  These were the generations that shared a philosophy of,  “If we need it or want it, let’s do it.”

Drive by, as examples, the Turnverein  (Athletic Club) on the LaBahia Prairie, the Shutzenverein (Rifle Club) in Round Top, the American Legion Hall/Community Center in Burton, or the Hermann Sons Hall in Gay Hill. These and many more like them were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by the sweat, money, and other private resources of individuals.

A group would get together and decide they needed a place to gather for their club or organization.  Some member would donate an acre or two of land and the other members would pitch in with muscle, material, and sweat to build their dream.  

Some of the monuments like those just mentioned are still in use more than a century after the first nail was driven into their floors.  Compare that to the municipal building in Brenham that had to be demolished within 30 years because of construction problems. In addition, some of the public housing built with public money in Brenham within the last  three decades is scheduled for replacement.  The rebuilding is, again, required because of construction deficiencies.

So how does this relate to the ribbon cuttings and dedications last week?

Start with the Margaret E. Blizzard Senior Activity Center.  Several years ago, the Washington County Healthy Living Center was losing its lease on the facility it was using.  There was a hue and cry for the city to build a center for senior citizens.  This request noted that the city builds parks and athletic facilities for youngsters so it should do something similar for seniors.

Thankfully, no public funds were made available.  So members of the Greatest Generation stepped forward. The John Kenjura family donated four acres of land for a new center. Then Frank Blizzard, Don Volta, and others of their generation stepped forward to raise whatever money was needed to build a center.  Over four million dollars was raised to build that magnificent structure that will serve the people of Washington County for years.

Likewise, the iconic Simon theatre in downtown Brenham was falling into disrepair due to neglect.  Some thought the best thing to do was to demolish the eyesore.  Thanks, however, to the vision of the late Tom Bullock, that architectural gem was saved.

Bullock formed an organization to protect and restore the theatre as a convention center.  Last week, the results of those efforts accomplished without a cent of public money were opened to the public.

Now the Simon has been beautifully restored to its original Beaux Arts Classical Revival Style grandeur.   It has been renamed the Barnhill Center in honor of John and Jane Barnhill, two of the civic leaders responsible for the restoration  

Inside, the auditorium has been restored with the French style kaleidoscope of colors popular of the time period.  It has been named the Hasskarl Auditorium in honor of the late Dr. “Boy” Hasskarl and is more beautiful than I remember it when I was a regular customer.

As summarized in a brochure on the Barnhill Center, “Primarily local individuals, dedicated to saving and restoring the theatre, have created a state of the art, cultural, educational, conference, and entertainment venue.” 

Similarly, under the leadership of Doug Hutchison, the century old Farmers’ Cotton Gin was restored and rehabilitated to Texas Cotton Gin Museum status without public funds.

So here’s the perspective.

Some of the younger generations are shaking their heads in bewilderment over this.  They are of a mindset that only the government can and should provide services for individuals and groups.

For example, when the grand opening of the Barnhill Center was announced, City Hall got some inquiries about how much city money was used for the restoration.  When the Burton American Legion scheduled a dance last year to raise money for needed repairs, the Post Commander got calls wanting to know why a fund raiser was needed, “Because didn’t the government” build and maintain the building because it was for veterans?”.

That is the generational difference.  The older generations say, “Let’s do it!;” younger generations say, “Let the government do it!.”


HOME page>                  NEW STUFF page> 
          WRITING CONTENT page>       GUEST ARTISTS page>Home_1.htmlNew_Stuff.htmlEssays.htmlGuest_Artists.htmlshapeimage_1_link_0shapeimage_1_link_1shapeimage_1_link_2shapeimage_1_link_3