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A Coffee Shop in Darkness (Commentary)

Nov 14th, 2011 | By | Category: Features, Front Page

Late in the evening in the fall, you drive up from Elizabethtown College on College Ave and stop on Market St. The work on the College Ave extension is going on, and from all appearances, only the bridge over the creek remains to be completed. A bridge too far, you sigh, as you make the right and drive towards Bainbridge. But then it hits you–there is a building on the left in total darkness.

Till a few weeks ago, the building was always lit, people milling around inside. On some evenings there was live music; at other times, people came in to have a coffee or enjoy a snack. Some would work on their laptops, but there was always a sense of activity in the place. Conversations were wide ranging. High school students talked about their teachers, classes, friends. Entrepreneurs lamented the taxes they had to pay. Some debated the sociological aspects of free markets. A remarkable lady used to come in, carrying an oxygen tank to help her breathe. She would cheerfully discuss the book she was reading at the time–she was a voracious reader–and talk about the meanings of words. She was a wonderful presence, but one day she stopped coming. The chats at the coffeehouse went on, but there was a void.

Now the coffee shop is closed. The customers have gone. The conversations have dried up. A sense of community has been lost. The music, ah the music–it too has died.

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