There was no blog post last week. The idea of trying to write during a time of tragedy was too difficult. My thoughts were too distracted by the thoughts of my family and friends in Colorado. The flooding there has been devastating. Here is a video from Jamestown, Colorado. Please take a few minutes to click the link and watch. It’s raw. The sights and sounds speak for themselves.
The person in the video is Tara Schoedinger. She is the mayor of Jamestown. She is family. This little town of 300 people has been wiped out. Tara had been working hard to get a new water plant for the town. Now there is a struggle to get any potable water.
Here is a picture of her house. You can see her roof in the upper left corner of the picture. What is left of a house in the center of the picture was the home of Joey. Joey, in addition to being Tara’s neighbor, is also the patriarch of the one and only commercial establishment in Jamestown which is called The Merc.
The Merc is on the town’s website which has this to say: “The Jamestown Mercantile has been in continuous operation since its opening day in 1903. Although it has changed owners many times through those years, it has always functioned as the town’s gathering place. It has welcomed and fed miners, cattle barons, stagecoach passengers, painted ladies, community leaders, horse thieves, rustlers, tourists, townspeople and bicyclists.”
I will let some Yelp! reviewers talk about what The Merc means to the residents of Jamestown.
“I grew up in Jamestown, and the Merc was The Place for everyone in town to hang out. There’s live music and food some weekends, and you can always get in for breakfast or lunch. The staff is all local and fun, the place has always had a great atmosphere.”
“The building itself is historical — it really was the mercantile when Jamestown was a mining community… I’ve heard rumors that during the big gold boom in the canyon, ladies “worked” upstairs, where now there are apartments.”
“The food isn’t the reason to come here, the locals and the atmosphere are. The food isn’t bad, but be prepared for a small-town diner experience. And be sure to read the menu top-to-bottom for some hilarious jabs at some of our more colorful longtime residents!” From Lalita D. in Oakland, California.
“I cannot say enough things about the Merc. It’s a lovely, charming, quaint establishment tucked away in the mountains. It’s a beautiful surprise. The people there were so friendly and welcoming. As someone who grew up in a city and is used to forking over a credit card before you can drink anything anywhere, I found it incredibly refreshing that at the Merc, they trust that you’ll settle up at the end of the night and track your tab on a simple piece of paper. The food is good, and I appreciate the adventurous nature of the menu. Not afraid of flavor, not afraid of spice. It’s the type of place where outsiders are obvious but not unwelcomed. And I thought it was absolutely awesome that they put out a number of big coolers of cold water for the bikers who are traversing the road. Everyone just stops and helps themselves. The vibe in Jamestown in general is relaxed and casual, and the Merc is the perfect local establishment.” From Sue S in St. Paul, Minnesota.
I feel awkward looking to Yelp! reviews to get a true sense of a place but right now there is no way to ask Tara or any of the local residents to give their testimony because there is no electricity, cell phone service, or internet. The one message we got from Tara is that The Merc is the epicenter of the town and Joey made it a place for all to feel welcome. Joey never made it out of his house when the mudslide hit. The worst is feared. The town is devastated. Tara is devastated. There are too many stories like this one affecting the residents across the front range of Colorado.
There are no lessons to be taken from this disaster, only grief. The only solace is that there will be the outpour of support for everyone affected. Please take a few minutes of your time to send your prayers to everyone affected.
To make a donation toward the relief effort, please visit http://www.helpcoloradonow.org/.
Kevin is a sixth generation funeral director. He lives in Upper Arlington, Ohio with his wife, Jennifer, sons, Foster and Ferris, and two dogs, Louie and Brutus.