As one leaves the downtown area, the treasures abound.
Along South Maple Street, Boone Avenue, South Main, French Avenue and College Street - to name just a few — are some of the most unique and stately homes that one could ever hope for. And the added advantage to all these beautiful residences is that so many of them are located along tree-shaded streets which make the walking and viewing of them so much more pleasant.
We as a community are indeed blessed that so many owners have taken pride in the history of these old homes and worked diligently to keep them in good repair and ready to transit the twenty-first century.
However, despite all the physical presences of ornate buildings that do so much to bring pleasure to the inquiring eye, there is another treasure that needs to be acknowledged. This most unique, one-of-a-kind treasure is Mike Rowady.
Now, Mike would probably not consider himself in this light, but many local citizens are becoming more and more aware of the value of his presence.
This was reinforced most recently on Thursday, June 4th, when Mike spoke extemporaneously before a room-sized crowd at the local library. It was not the first time that Mike had spoken about his experiences growing up here, and the fact that the room was packed attests to the fact that, even though he may speak often on the same subject, there are many who will come to listen knowing that he will have experiences to relate which have not previously been a part of his repartee. His ready recall and the depth of his remembrances are things to behold. Those listening to him could not help but hope that their own recollections will remain as fresh as his when they reach his age.
Mature in years, but young at heart and in attitude, Mike tells memorable stories of growing up in Winchester that capture the interest of all who listen, and one can see knowing nods as he relates some special event or location or character that sparks long-dormant recollections.
It is a supreme enjoyment to be able to hear Mike swiftly shift from the dark memories of prejudice that once reigned here (and throughout the country) to the humorous re-telling of some event that probably had the whole town smiling, as it does his captive audience.
As one listens to Mike, it is easy to make the comparison of his performance to that of Hal Holbrook famously doing his one-man show of Mark Twain. Holbrook moves glibly from dark happenings to laughable events and characters, and Mike does the same with equal dexterity and fluidity.
The only regrettable thing about the appearances of Mike is the non-attendance of the young members of the community. It is unfortunate that they are not being exposed to the rich history of Winchester, and there is no one more capable than Mike of bringing that history to life with vigor and vibrancy.
All who have the privilege of knowing Mike hope that he is with us for a long time to come and that his recollections will continue to make us smile and, occasionally, shake our heads in wonder.
He is a treasure we can all cherish.
Chuck Witt is a Sun community columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.