We need WABAC machine for recreation

Published 12:49 am Sunday, March 26, 2017

Saturday started off rainy and wet, the kind of day that earlier in my life would have meant curling up in front of the enormous wooden television cabinet and watching cartoons.

Memories of Saturday mornings came back yesterday as I thought about some issues facing our community.

Among the usual Saturday staple back in the mid-1970s was a rather quirky show called “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.”

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The show was a bit unlike most cartoons in that it was almost a variety show of other cartoons. My favorite recurring episode was “Peabody’s Improbable History” segment.

It featured a little brainy boy named Sherman and his professor of sorts, a bow tie and glasses wearing beagle named Mr. Peabody.

Mr. P had the most fantastic of gizmos, a WABAC machine that could allow the pair to time travel.

Normally, they traveled to some cartoonized event from either American or world history before the pair magically reappeared in the present again.

I remember dreaming about the WABAC machine and how incredibly helpful it would be — if it existed.

Yesterday, looking out the window, the lush landscape that was being fed by the overnight rain reminded me that spring was here. The season always conjures up images of baseball, softball and other springtime activities.

If the WABAC machine existed, I could go back through the decades and watch the youth of different generations play ball.

I could travel to Duncan Park of the 1960s and Liberty Park of the 1940s and 1950s. Before me, I imagined, would be children playing baseball at Duncan Park and young men, members of the Natchez Indians semi-pro team playing baseball at Liberty Park.

While the cars in the parking lots would seem antiques, interestingly the fields themselves would seem familiar.

They would be the same ones that children play on today. Volunteer labor — mostly — has kept them playable, but they’re long past their prime.

If the WABAC machine would let me, I’d travel back to 2009 when county residents overwhelmingly supported a referendum suggesting the City of Natchez work with Adams County and the Natchez-Adams School District to build a new recreation complex.

Once there, I’d ask every single elected official, just prior to the vote, “If the voters approve this will you commit to move forward with the plan to build a new complex and if you do not accomplish it, will you agree to not run for office again?”

In my brain, at least, maybe that would have caused the city, county and school district’s leaders to commit to a recreation complex construction plan or agree to get out of the way so someone else can lead the community.

Of course, hindsight and the clarity that a WABAC machine would provide are always 20-20.

But it is frustrating to know that in nearly eight years since the people voted to support the idea, little tangible has been done on the recreation complex.

The city and county are nearly ready to rebid the construction of a swimming pool project for the second time, so hopefully that phase may become a reality. Sadly, the pool may be built and elected officials will be able to tout their progress on recreation without doing what voters said they wanted — a comprehensive recreation complex.

Hopefully, city and county leaders can see that by working together and consolidating city and county services, the complex could not only become a reality, but it could impact taxpayers even less than leaders feared. Savings from sharing other services could easily help pay at least a portion of the note on a recreation facility.

Natchez and Adams County’s recreational facilities are woefully outdated, and they need to be updated.

Even a bow tie-wearing Beagle can see that.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.