You can learn all kinds of things when you hang around on Troy’s square for four hours.
Why, you might ask, was I doing that?
No, I wasn’t trying to relive past days when teenagers used to park their hot cars on the square and hang out there. When I was young, I owned a Volkswagen bug so the square wasn’t my kind of place.
No, I wasn’t stalking someone or panhandling.
I happened to be there as a part of Second Story Secrets, the annual event that opens the upper floors of downtown Troy buildings for visitors to see.
I was stationed outside the door to the upstairs of the Dye Building, the classic Troy downtown landmark built by William Henry Harrison Dye way back in the 1860s. Hence, I was standing on the square for four hours, telling people where to go – something I generally don’t have a problem doing.
Anyway, you see a lot when you stand in one place all that time. Here are my observations.
Downtown Troy is a place where people hold hands. Old people. Young people. All kinds of people walk around downtown Troy holding hands. I think it’s a great thing. It might surprise you, but downtown Troy is kind of a romantic place.
I also discovered there are things about downtown Troy I don’t know. The night of the event there were groups of CISV students running around downtown. They weren’t holding hands, but they were on a scavenger hunt. A number of them looked at me and figured I must know something about downtown — after all, a guy who is just standing there all night should know something about his surroundings. So they asked me if I knew where the plaque for Earl Galbreath was located.
Well, I know Galbreaths and I believe Earl was a Hobart Brothers big shot a long time ago, but I had to admit I didn’t know about his plaque. I even went up to the History Library last week and asked them, but they didn’t know, either. I assume the CISV people eventually found it, which means some little kid who probably never had seen downtown Troy until last week now knows something about it I don’t.
It was while I was wandering around downtown Troy last week hunting for Earl that I was reminded about something else: the city plays really bad music through the speakers on the square. I suppose once it’s Christmas season the city will play non-stop Christmas music, which will be a real improvement. Silence or even the sounds of cars slamming into each other as they try to figure out the traffic pattern on the square would be an improvement.
Another thing about downtown is that you see people carrying around all kinds of odd things. There were a bunch of women carrying around some crafty art thing they must have done at a store downtown. There were people carrying furniture around. Lots of babies in strollers, too, which I suppose is a natural consequence of all that hand-holding.
Finally, I have to say downtown is a pretty attractive area. The square is picturesque, most of the buildings are in good shape and as those who took part in Second Story Secrets know, the upstairs of some of the buildings are impressive. Some are in need of renovation, but they still have a certain appeal due to their history. Others have been renovated and are nothing short of spectacular.
More than a century ago, many of those buildings were in their glory days, with ballrooms that hosted operas, plays, dances and other events. Over the years, many of them fell into disrepair but they’re on the way back. It’s kind of exciting for an old Troy person like me to see them coming back to life. And to see all those people walking around holding hands and spreading a little love around town.
I’ll bet William Henry Harrison Dye — and Earl Galbreath, too, if we could find him — would be proud to see their old stomping grounds making a comeback.
David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at email@example.com.