A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 328

Are lilacs doomed to fade away?

FARMINGTON – In a British spoof, many years ago, on the biographical documentary TV show, This Is Your Life, the presenter embarked on a long list of achievements and personal attributes of the about-to-be-introduced guest.

The spotlighted guest’s life was overflowing with impressive successes and enviable skills (I recall one as being prestidigitateur extraordinaire), and the presenter who was slowly reading them off with appropriate gravitas, from that famous red book, completely ran out of time before the guest could be revealed.

Well, my guest also has an astonishing resume, and although he does not claim prestidigitateur extraordinaire among his accomplishments, he is, or has been, just about everything else in Rochester. Before I run out of space, ladies and gentlemen, I give you upfront … Gerry Gilbert!

He has been the Jaycees Man of the Year, the Rochester Citizen of the Year, served in leading positions on the School Board, Rotary, the Chamber and Main Street, not to mention Meals on Wheels, Roger Allen Athletic Association, the Gafney Home and even Somersworth Children’s Festival.

Most importantly of all, he is chairman of the city’s Branding Committee, a hugely important task that does not entail chasing Ralph Torr’s cows with a red hot iron, but rather, is preoccupied with squaring Rochester’s worldly image with modern day reality.

For many years, Rochester has been known as The Lilac City, after a flower that blooms for a couple of weeks each year and then withers into a boring old bush again…not the sort of item that the movers and shakers of this city want to be associated with, in these days of expanding economic activity and a burgeoning arts and academic community.

Many thousands of dollars have been allocated to this vital rebranding effort, and thousands more are needed, as I happened to mention to that old Scottish dodderer, Mr. Ramgunshoch, over in Farmington the other day.

“Och, that’s an awfy lot o’ siller,” muttered Mr. R. “A’ ye need is a few encapsulating words, and a’ the better if they can make a catchy mnemonic. Ah’ll gie ye a few aff the top o’ ma heid,” and ye can pass them on tae yon Gerry Gilbert for free.”

The very next day I phoned Gerry, explained Mr. Ramgunshoch’s approach to rebranding, and passed along the words he suggested would have Rochester’s powerful message ringing around the world – Commerce, Recreation, Industry, Manpower, Entertainment.

“That’s sounds very good. I can pass that along to the Branding Committee,” said Gerry, enthusiastically.
“A word of caution, though, Gerry. If you use the first letter of each word as a mnemonic, it spells ‘Crime.’ Ramgunshoch thought you might be uncomfortable with that, and suggested that Arts could be the sixth word to encapsulate the city’s image.”

“But that would spell ‘Crimea!’” spluttered Gerry, catching on to mnemonics with remarkable speed. “Does he want people to think Rochester has been invaded by the Russians?”

“Ramgunshoch, thinking there might be a snag, also came up with another set of words to describe Rochester, which, with only a very minor drawback, are much better, in my opinion,” I told Gerry. “How about Diversity, Opportunity, Volunteerism, Energy, Reinvigoration?”

“This certainly has possibilities. What’s the drawback?” asked Gerry.

“The first letters spell ‘Dover,’” said I. “Is that a problem?”

“We are not going to toot the horn for Rochester’s closest economic rival,” said Gerry, emphatically. “Tell Ramgunshoch to keep his ideas to himself.”

“Wait, he does have one final set of suggestions – Learning, Industry, Leisure, Arts, Commerce. Isn’t that just Rochester in a nutshell?”

“What! That spells ‘Lilac,’ the very word we are trying to escape from,” expostulated Gerry.

“But it could be the savior of the Lilac City Grill, Lilac City Estates, Lilac City Pediatrics, the Lilac Mall, and a whole lot more. I think Ramgunshoch has a winner here,” I responded.

Perhaps Gerry’s Branding Committee, in the coming weeks and months and years, will chose a different approach, and I wish them every success. However, if, after the expenditure of tens of thousands of additional dollars, and the hiring of a firm of crack consultants, they triumphantly come up with Learning, Industry, Leisure, Arts, Commerce, it will confirm the wheel can be invented twice.


July 24, 2014

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