• 32°

A fascination with dreamers

I

have always been a dreamer of sorts.

My aunt and uncle lived on a street that had this huge creek that ran through their back yard. I would spend hours rearranging moss covered rocks to build apartment buildings and homes for the stream creatures to live and raise their families. I would make tables from limestone rocks and benches from bits of sandstone. For hours on end, I would imagine the stream creatures riding on their leaf boats to travel to Moss Inn to live or just spend the night.

Of course, the stream fell prey to the building of a new subdivision, and my make believe town was overtaken by real bricks and concrete. Although Moss Inn was gone, I never quit dreaming.

There have been many dreamers that have fascinated me during my lifetime. They are the people who defy the odds, are scoffed at for their dreams and have faced ridicule from family and friends.

Great cities have emerged from dreamers who could visualize buildings, town squares, churches and parks.

Beautiful works of art have been made by blending paint and letting one’s imagination run wild.

Mesmerizing music whose notes fill our heads and become an unforgettable lullaby that soothes our souls is from a dreamer.

Pieces of literature that were written hundreds of years ago but still ignite the minds of today’s readers, tantalizing food or the rhythm of a poem are all works from people willing to take a step into an unknown world for a cause, a thought, a tune, a face or a place that stayed in their mind looking for a way out.

I think of George Washington Carver every time I eat a peanut butter sandwich, although he did not invent the peanut. (It was invented by the Aztecs.) He had a life that was difficult at best.

He was born into slavery in Missouri, and because he was so frail and sickly, he could not work in the fields. His days were spent out in the forest studying plants and animals.

He virtually saved the South, discovering that peanuts added life-giving nitrogen to the soil that was depleted from the growth of cotton. He overcame racial barriers and dreamed of how this one legume would change the world.

Andrew Carnegie was a dreamer. He grew up in Scotland and founded the Carnegie Steel Corporation in Pittsburgh. The amazing fact was while he was one of the richest people ever known, he gave 90 percent of his money away.

He loved libraries and from 1886 to 1919, Carnegie donated $40 million toward the construction of 1,679 libraries across the United States.

We have a Carnegie library in Clark County across from the College Park gym. It is empty as far as I know. Being a lover of libraries, I truly wish this monument, which is a testament to Carnegie and his endeavor to higher education, could be utilized as a learning center, an art facility or a reading center. I feel certain Carnegie would approve.

Ray Kinsella was a dreamer. He also heard a voice in his head. Not the kind of voice that would go away, but a persistent voice of building a baseball field in the middle of his Iowa farm.

Ray and his wife, Annie, were facing hard times. As a farmer, the bank was breathing down his neck. They were ready to take his farm.

Tossing and turning each night in his bed, he heard the voice distinctly three times, “If you build it, he will come.”

With his wife’s support, and to the disappointment of his brother-in-law, Ray took a leap of faith and built a baseball field in the middle of a cornfield.

“All his life Ray Kinsella was searching for his dreams. Then one day, his dreams came looking for him.” (“Field of Dreams” tagline)

On Friday night, April 14, the Leeds Center for the Arts reopened. After the celebration and tour of the facility, a young group of dreamers stood outside talking. I stood listening when I heard them remark of all the great things going on in Winchester.

The downtown continues its upward climb to a destination. Young people are pouring their hearts and souls into their dreams of breweries, distilleries, dress shops, hardware, an embroidery shop, wood crafting and pottery.

While it might not be your dream, it is theirs. And dreamers, such as the Carvers, the Carnegies, and the young dreamers of Winchester, turn into bigger and better things.

Although I am not as young as I once was, one thing is certain — I am sure glad I can still dream. I pity those who don’t.

“It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again. Ohhhhhhhh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.” (Terrance Mann played by James Earl Jones in “Field of Dreams”)

Lisa Johns is a former teacher and librarian as well as an activist on revitalizing downtown Winchester.