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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Treasurer for Life



Jan, Mom and I turned in our old homes and moved here twenty five years ago for the sole reason that Jan and I wanted to move our weaving business to the next level and needed a studio. 

We moved to the Township of Boston, a big square in Northeastern Ohio, exactly the size Northwest Ordinance of 1786 decreed, with a couple of chunks now gone due to the succession of Boston Heights a hundred years ago, and some annexation by the greedy city to the south.  The Village of Peninsula runs along part of the ragged edges of the Township.

The charming little village is locked into its canal days appearance by an historic designation obtained by some previous visionary in the village. The old houses have unchanged facades, failing septic systems and cisterns serviced weekly by the water truck.  It is so quaint it attracts tourists.  Peninsula is as art centric as they come. 

The man who locked up most of the village as an historic district had a vision without a plan, leaving behind a village that tourists love to visit, but tend to spend little money in.  It is hard to be comfortable lingering in shops when the nearest public restroom is in the next city.

Way back in the nineties, shortly after we moved here, a young whippersnapper with a vision to promote his hometown moved back and opened a gallery.  Then another.  He took over another.  A group of merchants coalesced around him.   We called ourselves the Peninsula Merchants Co-Op.  Another member and I opened the Co-Op’s first checking account, and I settled into being Treasurer for Life.

With our young visionary leading, the Co-Op promoted the town, organized events, took advantage of events already in place such as the national Boston Mills Art Festival, held in the township.  We started the village web site.  Funding came from grants written by young Turks with local businesses to promote. 

Jan’s and my business is up the hill from Peninsula and around the corner, off in the township. I resisted the urging of friends in town to move shop to the village.  Our overhead was too darn comfortable and our art show business model wasn’t compatible with moving our work to a place in town.  But I liked my associates, and was learning a lot.  Treasurer for Life was OK, until they got the first five thousand dollar grant and were working on another.  The checking account had my social security number on it!

Thus, I am responsible for the existence of the Peninsula Area Chamber of Commerce.  I got the federal ID number, filled out the reams of paperwork, chased down other officers for life to get signatures and filed in time to open a Chamber checking account with its own ID for the money on hand and the grants zooming down the pipeline.

Ten years into Treasurer for Life our own business had grown to twelve employees, our own accountant was retiring and a new business came to town.  A young public accountant set up business in her kitchen.

She dropped in to visit us and see what weavers do.  I engaged her on the spot and also asked her to be Treasurer for Life of the Chamber. She agreed.  As I recall, she showed up at the next meeting with the records and said “Hi, I’m your new Treasurer for Life.”  She’s been at it for the last thirteen years.


Some post scripts:  my friend, the young whippersnapper, eventually filed for bankruptcy, a not unexpected turn for a visionary in a town with no facilities.  He is now an international designer.

Mr. Bob, our accountant of many years, was in his eighties when he retired.  Every single year, because of the amount of cash he knew I could have on leaving a show, he asked me if I carried a gun.  Every year I said “No, Bob.  I carry a phone.”

My accountant for life outgrew her kitchen and now has an office in the township hall, down the hall from mine.  Her cat is so pleased.


15 comments:

  1. At least the township and town history you tell here does not include the criminal activity that hit the small town of Dixon Il. You probably heard of the case. Crooked comptroller was convicted of stealing over $53 million.

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    1. Not enough residents to generate that kind of money. May be a good thing.

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  2. Ah, the importance of sanitary installations....

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  3. As someone who takes note of where every single public convenience is located.....yikes!!

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  4. So you live in Ohio? I have never been there. My uncle and his wife live in Twinsburg, Ohio, which is ironic, because my uncle is a twin. His brother lives here in Hawaii and he has twin daughters.

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  5. Account For Life seems way too long Jo.

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  6. Those Ohio towns can be confusing... New Boston? ... clear down near Portsmouth... Boston?.. between Cleveland and Akron. Does the Erie Canal bike path run close to you? That Treasurer for Life position sounds interesting... guess that's what I am for me and Bill ;-)

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  7. The only job for life I know of is being a parent. The pay is low, but the fringe benefits have been great most of the time.

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  8. Those postscripts! I love them!

    Yeah, treasurer for life is not a coveted position, in my experience :)

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  9. I do love your posts - they show me something new, and often magical, each time. Treasurer for Life? I am very glad that it wasn't a life sentence for you.
    And I too NEED to know where the nearest facilities are. The next town is toooo far away.

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  10. Someday I must swing through your town and enjoy the ambiance. It sounds like my kind of place.

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  11. Taking on a position for life is a formidable commitment!

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    1. That's how things go in small towns. Someone does a job until they burn out or die, and it's passed along to the next volunteer.

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  12. Maybe one of those grants should have been turned into a public convenience! I'd still love to visit! I'll be sure to stop somewhere else before I hit your town . . .

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