One Man's Rant: Let’s build a town!

Each December, my wife and I have traditionally pieced together a tabletop Christmas town in our living room complete with a produce vendor, a city hall, a police station, a hotel, a couple of Victorian homes and a woodcrafts operation of some sort.

Oh, for some reason, we also had a light house in the tableau although I’m not sure why. I think we acquired it for 50 percent off at Michael’s one January. I have to admit, it felt out of line putting a coastal light house into a mountain village setting. Thankfully, the search light burned out one season so we had a good excuse not to use it anymore.

Based on these years of commercial/residential development experience, I feel confident in my new role as consultant for seasonal tabletop communities, burgs, boroughs, settlements, ... you get the idea.

It’s easy to design a simple gathering of businesses and homes, along with domestic animals, pine trees, street lights and other period-appropriate accents. However, deeper contemplation is needed to ensure adherence to building codes and municipal ordinances.

If you don’t pay close attention to guidelines, your assemblage of buildings could soon deteriorate into urban blight which would become an eyesore in your living room, game room, attic play room, etc. If that happens, you’ll damage your own property values and become a pariah in the neighborhood. That’s how a cute little fun town can spin out of control with devastating implications.

A friend of mine in Dewey by the name of John recently advised me that he’s putting an 1870s miniature town together in his basement. He’s planning a hotel, a saloon, a sheriff’s office, a couple of houses, an apothecary, a rail siding and a cabin in the nearby mountains. There might be a mercantile store in there somewhere.

I immediately noted that he’ll need a waste-water treatment plant, a used horse and buggy dealership, at least one real estate office, an antiques shop, a liquor control agency, a fire department and probably a print shop for all the needed signage. And a local newspaper to print my columns. Might not hurt to have a church somewhere within praying distance. A livery stable would also make sense. And a one-room school house and a post office. He should also consider a tea gown and undergarment salon for the ladies, but I’m not sure he’s including ladies in his master plan.

I don’t know what he’s thinking of for employment. Is there a copper or gold mine nearby? When I asked him about generating enough taxes to support the municipal expenses, he quickly commented that an insanely high tax on saloon booze will cover all costs. Perhaps John should remember that cowboy towns of the 1800s contained a lot of guns. Someone may not like his tax policy.

I’m also not sure John has given proper thought to the unintended consequences of his project. He’s going to have hotly contested elections for mayor, tax collector and sheriff positions. He may have envisioned a peaceful, serene 1870s town, but I doubt there were any peaceful, serene towns in the 1870s.

Has John even thought about healthcare for his citizens? I don’t think Gunsmoke’s Doc Adams is available anymore. Does John favor a socialized or free market healthcare system? Does he have a policy regarding roadside advertising billboards? Will he bar “snake salesmen” from Main Street?

I think I hear the creak of the lid on Pandora’s Box. What started out as an amusing activity may bring the whole metropolis of Dewey to its knees.

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