O'Brien: The older you get, the more you realize things aren't like they used to be

Posted: Mar. 21, 2014 7:15 pm Updated: Jun. 13, 2014 8:14 pm

Seems that the older you get, the more sentimental you become.

That should make sense. After all, how much sentiment can a 12-year-old have?

You can't help but pine away a little bit for the "good ol' days" when life seemed simpler. One of the things that can take you back are old buildings.

There's a certain sadness when you see grand old buildings fall to the wayside. There are accidents, like the untimely death of the Newcomb Hotel to a fire last year. There are planned demolitions, like what is happening now at the old Jefferson School. Either way, memories for many people are erased when those buildings are torn down.

Sure, you might get a brick or something from those buildings to put on your mantle or use as a door stop, but that doesn't replace what once was.

Not all old buildings have to meet the wrecking ball though. Many efforts have been made over the years to keep the Washington Theatre in downtown Quincy alive. Just down the street from the Washington Theatre on Hampshire is the building that used to house the Belasco Theatre. It's now home to One Restaurant, which is a great place to watch any of the bands that take the stage there every weekend. Sitting in the balcony there, you can just imagine what the place was like in its prime.

It will be interesting to see what is done with former Emerson School building, which is going to be made into apartments.

Most of my life has been spent in two similar-sized towns -- Galesburg and Quincy. Quincy has done a much better job of keeping its historical buildings alive and vibrant. The old mansions on Maine Street are amazing.

I'm all for reorganizing schools and building new facilities, but it would be a shame if the school district touched what now houses Quincy Junior High School. That place is an amazing structure. To have watched a Blue Devils game there back in the day would have been a treat.

This is about the only time of the year when my old job as a sports guy looks better than my current gig. State basketball tournaments and NCAA Tournament runs by Quincy University's teams were always a treat to cover. So many good stories to tell, especially with the high schools. It's almost like the movie "Hoosiers" comes to life when small communities rally around their teams and follow them to the state stage.

But even those tournaments aren't what they used to be, especially in Illinois, which touts itself as the home of America's original March Madness.

While people from small towns all across Adams County followed the Unity High School basketball team to the state tournament in droves, plenty of seats were available last weekend to watch the Class 1A and 2A state tournaments in Peoria. The Class 3A and 4A tournaments this weekend were expected to have smaller crowds, too.

An expansion to a four-class playoff system has taken some of the excitement of the state tournaments. Teams used to have to play for their lives on Friday to make it to Saturday's trophy round back in the two-class days. Now, every teams that makes the weekend gets a trophy.

The Peoria Journal-Star reported that the Illinois High School Association announced selling approximately 28,000 tickets last weekend for the four sessions at the 11,164-seat Carver Arena. That's a far cry from nearly 38,000 tickets that were sold for the 1A-2A weekend five years ago.

It would be great if the IHSA went back to a two-class system, but that's not going to happen. The group will expand again before it even thinks about contracting.

There is no stopping change from happening, but that doesn't mean we can't remember "the good ol' days."


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