I don’t work in Fayette County. Never have. When I first moved here I worked in a county to the north. Now, I’m working in the county to the south which just happens to be across the state line as well.
When I used to return to Fayette County each day from the north, I’d be greeted by a bright sign, located in a prominent position, welcoming me back home. On one side of the sign, there was a man in revolutionary attire standing proud, towering over the rest of the sign at nearly twice the size. He had one hand resting on top of the sign in a show of gentle possession, of pride.
The sign was bright, colorful and far more impressive than the usual signs you see when you cross county borders. More so even than most signs announcing that you’ve arrived in a new state.
Shown above isn’t this sign. Instead, this is the version of the sign that greets me now as I return home each day from the south. It’s missing the revolutionary man, missing the name of the county itself, and the ‘named in honor of’ section is cracked. Rather than being placed in a prominent position, it’s located around the curve of a 2-lane road, set off the road a bit and hidden behind some trees. But, despite the risk to life and limb involved in finding a place to stop, take a picture, and get back into the road without the benefit of seeing oncoming traffic coming around the curve, I stopped to get a picture. Because that’s just the kind of guy I was the other day.
Unfortunately, this sign pretty much represents the way that I look at the county. It’s full of good intentions, was once shiny and new, but has been left to its own devices for too long without a little tender loving care. Beautiful old stone homes from the 1700’s have been added onto with cracked vinyl siding and plastic sheeting over the windows. Everything made of metal has been left to rust without thought of replacement. And good ol’ Mr. LaFayette hasn’t even been replaced to look over the county that was given his name.
An area filled with good intentions has been refilled with forgetfulness and neglect. Unless you’re coming in from the Pittsburgh area on the 4-lane highway. Then they’re proud to see you arrive. At least until you turn back around and head back to Pittsburgh. Then, they’ll only give you the view of Mr. LaFayette’s backside to send you on your way…