This sort of thing breaks my heart.
My former English teacher, the man who once instructed me in the birth of English Literature, of knights, of bravery, and of honor, this same man, has buckled to casino interests.
The reason? A house. A magnificent, historically significant example of Georgian architecture, hidden behind a stand of pines on Plymouth Street. It’s backyard is a stunning manicured garden that could make Martha Stewart drool. I was lucky enough to have scored a visit there when I was a teenager.
Apparently, my former teacher, who cares deeply about this house, and who has lovingly looked after it for many years, feels that either the Wampanoag Tribe, or the Town of Middleboro will make good caretakers of the property if given the chance.
Therefore, Gladys would like to turn the tables for a moment and become the teacher.
The Wampanoag’s don’t want the Oliver house. The people who want to go to a casino in Middleboro don’t want to visit the Oliver house. They want to go see a show and hit the slots. They aren’t going to meander on Plymouth Street for the chance to stroll through your lovely gardens, unless someone's back there handing out free Margaritas. They could care less. They’d rather stare momentarily at a Thomas Kincaid print at the mall than at the portraits of the Olivers. If the Tribe does do anything for the Oliver House, it won’t be because they want to. It will be PR.
And the town of Middleboro? Good one. Listen, if that seven million dollars ever lands on the table, every department in town is going to jump on it like a pack of half-starved hyena’s - and you’ll be fortunate if they leave you a bone to pick your teeth on.
Let me share with you the story of the Loring Library.
The Loring Library, an exquisite jewel of a building, curved at either end, with oval and cross-hatched mullioned windows, sat at the top of a hill in front of the Cordage Factory complex in Plymouth. Among other things, the Loring was the place where immigrant workers at the factory, like my grandfather, learned to read and write English.
Then along came Wal-Mart. Since the Nuclear Power Plant wasn't making the ends meet anymore, Plymouth was trying to court new business, and the infamous retail giant had been convinced to locate one of it's super stores on the abandoned cordage property.
But... that pesky hill, the one with the library on it – it would hide the store from the road. Can’t have that. So Wal-Mart decided to demolish the library, take down the hill, and cart it all away. This caused outrage amongst the residents of Plymouth and beyond, for whom that hill and it’s crowning library were icons and sources of the fondest memories. The protest became so thunderous that Wal-Mart could no longer ignore it. And so the company offered the following solution: It would pay to have the Loring lifted off the hill and stored ‘somewhere’, the hill would be removed, and at some indistinct time in the future, something vague could be done with the building. The town grudgingly accepted this concession, the library was taken off the hill without incident, shrink wrapped, and tucked into a far section of the parking lot where it sat like a discarded candy wrapper for years.
After having moved heaven and earth to build their store at Cordage, Wal-Mart eventually found a better location in Plymouth, and unapologetically moved out. The Loring was recovered by private interests, it's shrink wrap removed, and re-located to the opposite side of the road. It now serves as a function hall for wedding receptions and corporate parties.
So, my dear former English teacher, if you don’t want to see Judge Oliver’s desk used as a buffet table for panko crusted chicken, or champagne and Michelob spilled onto that original Southern yellow pine, you should most certainly look elsewhere for an appreciative benefactor.
I am therefore officially offering my services, at no charge, to create and host an Oliver House web site, and to work with you to create a public foundation to raise money for the restoration of the Oliver house – if only you will forget all this nonsense about relying on the mercy of either the casino industry or the perpetually mismanaged Town of Middleboro to somehow appreciate the Home’s value. Look how little they value the environment of the property across the street.