Recently, the bank branch in St. Johns closed. It was an unsettling event for most people. I am not qualified to discuss the economic impacts that an event like that will have on our town, but I think I am qualified to discuss how resilient the town is and why at the end of the day, in my opinion our town will keep on moving along, without skipping a beat, just as it has for more than a hundred years.
To someone unfamiliar with the town, a quick look at a map of the area might indicate that geographically, St. Johns isn’t on the way to anywhere! There are more efficient and aesthetically pleasing ways to travel in just about any direction, than to venture through St.Johns! There are no interstates to shuttle the masses, no metropolitan attractions to drive commerce, and no obvious natural draws to speak of…
To those who call our town home now, or who have ever called our town home, nothing could be further from the truth. Our secret is that we believe St. Johns is on the way to everywhere,in fact, it may even sit right in the middle of the universe! So to adequately understand how this little, unassuming community will carry on despite the loss of the bank, I’ll ask you to consider a few things that I believe form the underpinnings of this community.
First, consider those who you know that have left our little town to defend our nation and returned. From the Great War all the way through to the current conflict we are engaged in. Consider those who left and did not return. Their sacrifice was complete.By virtue of the sacrifices of those men and women, the bar of expectation and greatness was set high for the rest of us to aspire to.
Next, consider the farmers and ranchers who for generations have survived year to year in a place where water is scarce and conditions are often less than favorable for cattle and crops. Their toughness and grit are what brought, and continue to bring them and their families back season after season to face the uncertainty and make a go of it.
Finally, consider the teachers in our schools who also, for generations have prepared the youth of this town to rise to the highest levels in society. They prepared us and expected us to go out into the world and not be a drain on society; they expect us to contribute in whatever capacity we can aspire to. Our schools have contributed significantly to the highest levels of state and federal government, to global industry, religion and the arts. Our teachers showed us that it is better to be part of something bigger than ourselves, and that we can always do hard things.
So, the bank left… It wasn’t the first business to go, and it probably won’t be the last! As sure as they go, more will come. In St. Johns, that really isn’t what matters anyway. The town’s strength is its people; Industrious, hardworking people who have always found, and will continue to find ways to survive and adapt and keep moving forward.