As we drift into 2016, struggling to write the proper year on our cheques, I thought what better time to reminisce about “Auld Lang Syne” or as the Scots would say, “Old Long Ago”. Well, maybe not so long ago, but I realized that I wrote my first column for the Creston Valley Advance 15 years ago, almost to the day, and if you think my current columns are dry, you would have needed eye drops to get through those first ones. OK, they weren’t that bad and in fact some were pretty good — do you ever run across stuff that you wrote or built or created many years ago and marvel that you probably couldn’t generate that same result again if you tried?
This is my 355th column since former Advance publisher Melody Hill cajoled me into doing an update of what happens around the Creston and District Community Complex (the official name) and the very first submission dealt with what we were calling this feature. Since it was about the rec centre (the unofficial name), we landed on From the Centre, which I felt was a cut above “Rec News” or other lesser choices. Thumbing through them all (yes, I am a hoarder) is a trip through the intimate history of the place.
Since I was the rec programmer when I started writing, many of the columns talked about volunteering and the dedication people in the community put into this place and I’ll tell you, there have been hundreds and probably even hundreds more before I started here over 20 years ago.
Many column ideas grew from conversations between Heather and I as we did our regular visits to family in Alberta. Our little brainstorming sessions over the 10-hour drive usually had me asking Heather to scribble these great ideas down on paper, leaving me to try and decipher them later in hopes of regaining a glimmer of what brilliance we achieved earlier. Over the years, columns also spoke about the many events we held here and while many of them were the same such as fall fair and the trade show, we saw them evolve or change as different volunteers or circumstances came into play. We had numerous columns over several years that talked about the master plan, which evolved into the facility enhancement and aquatic feasibility study, Friends of the Community Complex, design team, referendum and finally the whole construction process, which landed us in our current facility.
I often sweated over a Pulitzer Prize-winning quality column, selecting my words like a jeweler would select diamonds for a wedding ring only to get the best feedback from some goofy column about mixed dog breeds (pointer plus setter = pointsetter, a traditional Christmas pet) or preparing for one of the ski trips we used to run (No. 2: Soak your gloves and store them in the freezer after every use). It just supports why I try and use humour as my basis for getting through life — most people can use a good laugh and those that can’t, should.
Skimming through the past 354 columns, I am reminded of that scene in the movie Field of Dreams where Terrance Mann states, “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. … Oh people will come, Ray, people will most definitely come.” If you took out the word baseball and used whatever you call this place or way of life, be it recreation or community hub or social gathering place, and substituted perhaps community, it couldn’t ring more true. People have and will continue to make this place, and our community, what is it is today.
Neil Ostiafichuk is the recreation supervisor at the Creston and District Community Complex.