I received a copy of Johnstown Magazine from a friend today in the mail, pleased to see a hometown lad on the front Cover. Tom Getty is an alum of my own school district and a ‘rising star’ in the film industry. It makes me proud that someone from a small town can make their dreams come true. He has written, directed and starred in the film Rising Fear. I have seen it twice now and love the twists and turns, the unexpected nuances. I love seeing my home state, and the places I know by heart.
But I am struck by something else. The fortitude, the strength of spirit to endure, to create, to persevere is ingrained in the genes of those that come from Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Even though a host of us have moved from the area, and call other places ‘home’ now, I believe that spirit long continues and direct our lives. We have suffered as others have suffered, and sometimes even more so. Yet, here we are.
Johnstown, Pennsylvania is my hometown. At one time the town, the city rivaled Pittsburgh in making steel, digging and dragging coal out of the ground. Those were our main industries, and at one time the sky above the city burned orange with the fires from the furnaces of the old Cambria Iron Works and others. I can still recall those nightly heavens in my mind, and the stories of my family members working in steel. Especially my grandfather who was one of the last men that could look at the hot steel and know when to tap it by sight. Fact is skirting the edges of the mythic as time rolls by.
The city now is pot-marked by parking lots where houses and shops once stood. There is fear that the last rolling wire mill will close its doors. Miles of mills are closed, rusting and rotting away. Brick buildings crumbling to the ground. But there is life still rumbling in those hills. You just have to look for it. The heart of the city is the diverse population of the city. The soul is their combined spirit.
And so Johnstown Magazine is a representation of that body and soul.
A small town parcel of information and pictures depicting that endearing and enduring spirit. Even with all its economic challenges, and aging population Johnstown manages to put out a publication to celebrate the town. How many other towns can boast the same? I live in a small town in Wisconsin with a similar number in population, a branch of a major university, an hour away from a major city, and nestled in slightly shorter hills along a line of water and lake. The town, more so the university is economically constrained by budget cuts from the state, and lack of other industry. And if that university is shut, the town will suffer. Just as Johnstown has suffered from the loss of steel and coal. But this Wisconsin town, to my knowledge, doesn’t have a magazine.
Johnstown will not let go of its potential or opportunity to market its resources.
The Johnstown Magazine plays on my sense of place and place attachment to my place of origin. Events and personal stories are highlights of the pages. Speaks to the branding of a destination. A match to the mantra that is tourism. I plan on using the publication in class this fall to illustrate how towns can market their town in unique ways.