Thursday, May 15, 2003

Hebron Crossroads 5-25-03
By Jeff Gill

Memorial Day is this Monday, and Hebron always turns out in good order, solemn high spirits, and with strong numbers. Around 10 am folks start walking from the American Legion Hall down to our village cemetery to honor our dead and commit ourselves to the values they defended.
From the Civil War that began the Memorial Day custom to the overseas conflicts our sons and daughters have fought in, we find representatives of each era out there on the east edge of town, marked in bronze and granite so the ages will firmly note and long remember what led them to stand on the "thin red line" in our behalf.
Bands, a veterans’ honor guard, a guest speaker, and the Gold Star Mothers all make up part of the parade, simple and straightforward, that marches east toward the last rise before the South Fork makes its eastern loop around the village.
Thanks to the village for this year’s improvements to the Hebron Cemetery, with newly planted trees and some landscaping flanking the main entrance on US 40. As we enter and as we leave, this place of rest and renewal reminds us of the values of the past that have brought about our present.
Going back into town along the old National Road, we’re following the route of westward expansion, and a wagon train in honor of Ohio’s bicentennial will roll that same direction through the Hebron crossroads July 1 and 2. You’ll hear much, much more about this in coming weeks, but 10 am July 2 the "path to statehood" wagons and riders will pull up to the beautifully restored Hebron Mill (after overnighting at Lakewood High School), where after a brief ceremony they’ll ride on through town and up and over Sunset Hill to pass Devine Farms.
Mark your social calendar now for those two days! Also, please contact me ASAP with dates for Vacation Bible Schools, which our area has many of; some will begin just as soon as the schools let out, and others wait ‘til after baseball has ended in July.
Heading out of town to the west you pass the Municipal Complex, and the Hebron Library behind, where your correspondent will share a program on Saturday, May 31, at 10 am on "The Great Hopewell Road." I’ll be largely using the work and images from the research of Ohio Historical Society archaeologist and local resident Dr. Brad Lepper, whom I’ve been proud to work with over the years.
The track of this now largely invisible road runs just west of the library doors, and this is a great way to look at the 2000 year old history of Ohio, as well as the 200 years in this bicentennial series.
And then as you pass through Luray and travel west of Rt. 37, the valley of the South Fork spreads out before you. . .again!. . .and depending on the time of year, an array of tents and trailers swarm at the base of the grandstands of National Trail Raceway.
You can read track director Jim Layton’s commentary elsewhere in these pages, but Hebron’s biggest attraction continues to grow and develop, both with the major events like the Pontiac Excitement Nationals, Night of Thunder, and Mopar Nationals, and also with smaller programs like the Wednesday grudge matches open to the general public.
The road through the cemetery, down the National Road, the "path to statehood" wagon train, and National Trail Raceway; sounds like a theme week for the Hebron Crossroads! Don’t just roll on through, stop and look around, listen and reflect. . .and thank a veteran for the freedom of the open road this Memorial Day.

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and the village’s second newest bike rider; if you have tales of the high road or the low road, call 928-4066 or e-mail
Hebron Crossroads 5-18
By Jeff Gill

Capt. Rich Vance of the Hebron/Union Twp. Fire Department insists that I have nothing to worry about, even though it took them and four or five units from around the county three tries to burn down a house.
Wouldn’t you think a team of firefighters could get the job done the first time? But Rich says their real skills are in putting fires out, and that their training that day was more based on interior fire fighting and rescue, external suppression (good news for the Nazarene Church, what with their worship center being ten feet away on Cumberland St. and all), and logistics.
I’m sure he’s right, but somehow you’d think a bunch of fire guys could burn something down just like. . .
Then I realized I may be remembering the plot of Ray Bradbury’s "Fahrenheit 451" whose 50th anniversary is coming up. If you didn’t read it in high school, you either missed a week somewhere or are (obviously) over 65. Ray himself is 82 and still writing up a storm, which makes me feel good even if his writing rarely does: his books make you think, and then some.
But in that book, named after the temperature of combustion for paper, firemen start fires, and librarians burn books. It was an entry into the genre known as "dystopian", the opposite of "utopia" since the worlds they described were where things didn’t turn out well at all. You know, "Brave New World", "1984", "A Canticle for Leibowitz", "On the Beach."
Oddly, Bradbury made his case best in reverse for the value and beauty of literature, of writing, by showing its absence, and forcing you to reflect on what the world would be like without them.
So I’m glad to live in a world between utopia and dystopia, where the librarians welcome people and even new books into their buildings, and where the firefighters are much, much better at putting out fires than starting them. Things may not be perfect in Hebron, but as Capt. Vance says, "everything gets better with training."
And thanks again to the Hebron Church of the Nazarene for donating the building, which they needed down for parking anyhow, and for accepting the risk to let our area firefighters get a little bit closer to perfect in their long day’s training exercise.
It was also neat for this scouter to hear a former Licking Twp. Firefighter talk about going from an Explorer post (now known as Venturing) and Junior firefighter to a Township position to now working for the Columbus Fire Department. There was some direct and indirect recruiting for the profession going on with the crowds of families and children watching the men and women honing their skills on the blazing building.
Licking Twp. is the first of a number of fire departments in the area to have the new, retooled Venturing Crew connection to Scouting for their junior fire teams, and more are coming, thanks in part to the involvement of Jeff Walker, the county emergency services director who is encouraging units to start juniors around Licking County.

This is an interesting year for 50th anniversaries: "Fahrenheit 451", the movie "Shane" which marked a turning point in Westerns for Hollywood; the ascent of Mt. Everest by Edmund Hillary, a New Zealand beekeeper, and Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa tribesman and skilled mountaineer in his own right; the discovery of the double helix in DNA’s structure by James Watson and Francis Crick, opening up the field of biotechnology; and of course Sherman and Evelyn Clay’s 50th wedding anniversary. See, you knew there had to be a Hebron 50th in there somewhere, right?

Coming up on 150 years ago, Anthony Trollope wrote "The Warden," and that’s the text for the last Books & Coffee group (for a while) on May 24, next Saturday, at 10 am in the Hebron Christian Church education building at 612 W. Main St. The story is a simple one, about an English cathedral town named Barchester, a cleric named Septimus Harding who runs the Victorian equivalent of a very well endowed nursing home for men, and various archdeacons, bishops, reporters, politicians, and other worthies of the community who each have their own idea about how Hiram’s Hospital ought to be run. Not that anything is wrong, mind you, they just have ideas about how it would go better.
And of course there are young daughters, suitors, and complications (it is a Victorian novel) to keep things moving along.
What I find so interesting about Trollope’s novels, which you may have seen on PBS’s "Masterpiece Theatre" even if you’ve never touched one of his books, is that everyone is shown as having perfectly good reasons for doing or at least wanting what they make happen. There are conflicts and disagreements and arguments (very polite arguments, but vehement ones just the same), but everyone is given credit for wanting the best. . .as they see it.
No utopias here, and certainly no dystopia; just a lens for looking forward at our own times and motivations. And especially at how we see the motivations of others, even here at the Hebron Crossroads!

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and a utopian on some days; if you have good news or bad for the Hebron area, call 928-4066 or e-mail disciple