Carolyn McCloskey: Dreamers have always drive this community we all love

“I Have a Dream” is the beautiful song Allison Bean sings at the beginning of the musical “Mamma Mia!,” which so many of you experienced recently at our own Gallery Theater.

I was working backstage as I listened to her angelic voice sing this piece every performance. It reminded me of an article I found, “They Had a Dream,” that I wrote for Viewpoints in 2011.

It was about people with a vision who made McMinnville the community we love. And it was interesting to read almost 12 years later.

I wrote about moving to McMinnville in 1958, when my father came to teach at Linfield, just after my graduation from high school in California.

McMinnville had 8,000 residents. It had a drugstore, a JC Penney, a five and dime, and a hardware store, along with a few others, on Third Street.

When Kmart came to town, and then Walmart, some stores left the downtown. But dreamers with a vision saved the main street we all love.

We would come back to Mac in the summers, from teaching assignments overseas, and witness the transformation.

As with now, there were many who were not happy. They missed their drugstore and so forth.

But change is necessary to stay alive. And we are gradually undergoing another major change to our special Third Street.

The challenge is to maintain the vision those earlier dreamers had and accept the reality that we have something very special to offer.

Erin Stephenson is a great example of a new generation of dreamer — one who kept in mind the original dream as she and her partners built the Atticus Hotel and are now setting their sights on restoration of the Mack Theater. McMinnville is special because of them.

It’s important for new people in town to understand how we became the community that they were drawn to move to or invest in.

Our Third Street is the major draw. We not only have the high end wine bars and restaurants, but we have parades, and farmers markets and other events that bring people downtown.

How do we balance that? With dreamers, that’s how.

Perhaps you know a dreamer or live with one. In my case, I grew up with one.

My father, John Day, aka “Cloudman,” loved clouds and was determined to show others what he saw.

Did you know there is a plaque on the wall of one of the buildings on Third Street dedicated to him? We do a good job of honoring our dreamers in McMinnville.

I have inherited this trait. My passion is theater and, in particular, our wonderful Gallery Theater, at Second and Ford streets.

Gallery came to be because of the dreams of people like Frank Nelson and Lea New. My dream is to keep the quality of our theater high while finding ways to keep our old building up to the standard set by our shows.

Just ask any of the people who have been coming to our shows through the years. They get better and better. The blockbuster “Mamma Mia!” is a good example.

We are producing fine wine in plastic cups, though. To continue the dream, we need support.

My father taught me that dreamers have common qualities: visualization of what can be, conviction it can happen and enough stubbornness to successfully confront naysayers. Most importantly, they have the ability to persuade others to join them in lending support.

We have a new restaurant on Third Street with a name of okta, which is connected to clouds. The owner loves clouds.

Let me introduce you to Cloudman, who spun his dreams at Cloudman.com. This community is different because of him. He joined other dreamers I looking up and sharing the cloudscape.

He sent this to the News-Register years ago. I leave you with it:

“I have a dream for McMinnville, especially for the school children.

“In my dream, the entire Mac community has become a community of sky watchers.

“The first thing people do in the morning is to look at the new cloud show in the sky. The last thing they do at night is to look at the sunset clouds and say a word of thanks for their beauty.

“During the day, visitors notice a peculiarity about McMinnville residents ... they are frequently looking up at the sky instead of walking along with heads down.

“‘What’s up there?’ the visitors wonder.

“Mac residents know. It is the wonderful, ever-changing and free cloud show that is there for the watching, and they don’t want to miss it.

“In my dream, we start training a generation of cloud watchers in the first grade. And each classroom has a chart to use as a guide.

“Each child comes to know the names and appearances of clouds. They come to recognize familiar clouds as old friends.

“Each child writes a daily journal about the ‘Sky and Me.’

“In my dream, an unusual cloud form would activate telephone calls between cloudwatching friends: ‘Are you seeing what I see?’

“Every community is seeking an identity, and Mac’s downtown is giving this community one. I believe that a town where everyone’s heads are held a bit high because its citizens are cloudwatchers would give it a further identity.

“Enough, Luke Skywatcher! Get your head out of those clouds and take a reality check! You are dreaming the impossible dream!

“True, true, true. But dreams are the gossamer fabric of which future realities are built.”

“John A. Day, aka John Quixote “

Your dream has come true, Cloudman. Thank you.


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