Friday, December 4, 2015

If not the end, close to it

We did get a new lodge out of the deal.
In October 1965, the Cincinnati Post-Times Star sent ace reporter Chris Saupe to Franklin County to interview Donald Best, the high-level engineer with Sieco Inc.

Sieco had been hired by the Fairfield Redevelopment Corp. to draw up plans and a model for the incubator version of New Fairfield, the glorious Phoenix of the valley of the East Fork.

Mrs. Saupe spared no hyperbole in her story, which supported a headline:

Excitement Accompanies 
Fairfield Relocation Plans

And excitement, it was.

"Imminent construction of the 22-mile long reservoir has created both joy and sorrow, regret and excited anticipation among the 185 property owners of the 150-year-old village of Fairfield."

That would be one hundred and fifty years.

"Most residents have become resigned to the fact that their homesites will be under about 20 feet of water within the next few years. In accepting that fact, they have turned their energies toward rebuilding a new Fairfield, bigger, better and far more exciting than the old."

Mrs. Saupe obviously never spent any time in the old town, so her definition of "more exciting" was perhaps somewhat relative to the moment.

Anything was better than the immediate future.

She got the best out of Best after painting a nature scene straight from Hallmark.

"Options have been taken on approximately 200 acres of farmland about a mile from the town's present site. The new land, which will be within walking distance of the reservoir, is gently rolling, affording a breathtaking view of the Whitewater Valley from its wooded acreage."

I have no idea which plot of land Mrs. Saupe had visited, but you can't see squat from New Fairfield, even if you walk over to the hillside.

Ah, sell the sizzle. Ol' Ambrose Banning and his wife (my mother) were occasionally full of it. Fun to be around part of the time, though.

The corner of Excited and Giddy
Mrs. Saupe spread it on thick in introducing Best to the yarn. "Plans for the town ... are replete with optimism for the town's future."

Considering that almost nobody from the old town was interested in the new town, that optimism ranged from unbridled to guarded, heavy on the guarded.

Best revealed that the plan for New Fairfield was based on it being "one of the most advantageous locations in Franklin County."

A mile west of the new state highway perhaps fueled Best's version of optimism, that and the fact that his job was to promote his company's work. The town was also "at the head of a peninsula which is earmarked for a large public park area."

Read that: Campground.

"A proposed east-west highway and causeway across the reservoir will intersect with the park boulevard in Fairfield.

Read that: Proposed.

Mrs. Saupe was quick to get to the heart of Best's best.

"Best envisions a town of large estate-type lots on gently curved streets. He has set aside space for an elementary school, penciled in a good-sized business area, and planned for water and sewage treatment facilities."

Read that: Total bullshit.

Best told Mrs. Saupe that the school would be needed "to educate the children of an expected 5,000 population. Businesses and restaurants now operating in other cities have already expressed interest in obtaining lots in the new Fairfield."

How many thousand? Most of them didn't get any farther south than Roseburg.

A 1993 newspaper ad
New Fairfield did actually have a business once, a beer and bait sales outlet. You can still cut a deal on a used pontoon boat. (I did find a snippet from a newspaper that said former Reds baseball great Ted Kluszewski was reportedly interested in opening a restaurant in New Fairfield. I found nothing to support that.)

Mrs. Saupe did nail it with her report that the Masonic Lodge would build in New Fairfield, thanks to a donation of land from Carl and Ruth Huber.

Lots had been set aside to allow for relocation of the old town's two churches, but neither moved on that offer.

"Lot prices are expected to be modest," Mrs. Saupe was told, "and will include the cost of installing water and sewage facilities and building of those streets not replaced by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers."

Read that: Most of them.

The whole of Mrs. Saupe's story was summarized by my mother, who had a poignant quote, which wasn't really unusual for her:

"Right now, of course, we must leave room for a little sentiment. But we have even more enthusiasm for the future of Fairfield."

New Fairfield inevitably came to be. It's not what Pauline Banning or Donald Best had in mind. Or anybody else, for that matter.

And off to the left:

Dick Konstanzer, for the Connersville News-Examiner, wrote ahead of the groundbreaking:

"Brookville is going to reap the rewards when the last bulldozer departs and the tourists start swarming in."

Yo, folks ... we got some land for sale on some gently rolling hills overlooking the beautiful ....

For sure, you just don't get to read a headline like this every day.

1 comment:

  1. Grandpa asked the contractor building the Causeway road on the east side why the road was so narrow compared to the west side and his reply was that he only had to replace the current road where as on the west side it was new and he had certain regulations to follow. He obviously missed the article by Mrs. Saupe.