Good-bye Saturn

Saturn’s hometown stunned as car company calls it quits

 

By Aaron Cooper

CNN

SPRING HILL, Tennessee (CNN) — The town that Saturn put on the map is

worrying about its future, and hoping its giant auto plant and jobs won’t go

the way of its most famous product.

General Motors announced this week that it would close its Saturn line

after a sale to Penske Automotive Group fell through.

At the end of “Saturn Parkway” in Spring Hill sits the huge plant where

— as the ads touted — “a different kind of car company” produced a “different

kind of car.”

The first Saturn, a red S-Series, rolled off the line in 1990. The

factory, the town, and its workers have played a major role in the company’s

image and advertisements, even hosting tours and “reunions” for Saturn car

owners.

There is a community pride attached to Saturn. That first car is still at

the factory — now on prominent display in the visitor’s center. In city hall,

the walls are decorated with old photos of the small town that Spring Hill was

before Saturn came to town.

“I think people are very proud an American-made car was made here,” said

resident Barbara Williams.

Mayor Mike Dinwiddie credits a lot of that growth to the Saturn plant.

“GM back in the mid 80s is the reason this town began to grow in the

first place” he said.

Eventually, however, GM decided to move production elsewhere. The last

Saturn made in Tennessee rolled off the line in 2007. After retooling, GM

started building the Chevrolet Traverse in Spring Hill, but that production is

on its way out, too.

In November, it will be moved to a plant in Michigan, leaving Spring

Hill’s plant idle.

The move to shut down Saturn has left some in town disappointed and

perplexed.

“It’s been a great car,” said Keith Slep, who runs an auto repair shop a

few miles from the factory. He had hoped Penske would make the car work because

“he has a track record that won’t quit of being a great business man and a good

leader. I don’t know what happened.”

Barbara Williams, who was eating lunch in a Spring Hill park with her

granddaughter, had the same question.

“I’m like everyone else, how can this happen? GM has been a forerunner in

the automobile industry, and it’s just a really sad indictment on what is

happening,” Williams said.

The mayor said the proposed plans are close to where Saturn was decades

ago.

“We are kind of curious as to why the decisions have been made that have

been made …,” Dinwiddie said. “I do know that what GM is trying to do now as a

company, as far as how they are trying to operate and what they are saying,

the improvements they need to make almost mirror what Saturn was 20 years ago.”

Resident Joyce Avello said the federal government is to blame.

“It’s an abomination what the government is doing to the automotive

industry … Get it out of the government’s hands. They don’t know how to do

cars. They can hardly do the government.”

Dinwiddie is optimistic about the future of Spring Hill.

“I have to believe the plant is going to come back. It all depends on the

overall economy,” he said. “I hope that Americans start buying American

products and start supporting the American auto manufacturing industry, and if

that happens we’ll get a product in this plant.”

Dinwiddie said he has been working with General Motors on a daily basis,

and has invited the president and the auto recovery czar to come and tour the

plant.

“I don’t think they understand what this plant is capable of doing, and

once they see that, I think that they will be well aware of the situation and I

think they could probably give us some help,” he said.

G.W. Bowman, 94, has lived in Spring Hill most of his life and remembers

stories of his grandfather collecting the mail in the area during the Civil

War.

With Saturn gone and the local plant preparing to idle, he said, the city

is reeling.

“Of course it’s going to hurt, but it’s not going to kill Spring Hill,”

Bowman said. “Spring Hill was here a long time before they came in.”

TM & © 2009 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Nothing But Love

Recently, I’ve been noticing that a lot of my friends are having a hard time.  These are friends from all different areas of my life, the problems are diverse & the severity is all over the board.  There’s no consistency, no pattern, no reason that they’d all be feeling this way at exactly the same time.  Basically, things just suck.

I’ll admit that I’ve dug myself into my own little hole lately.  Maybe it’s the time of year…the span from March to May has always had a lull in it for me.  I may be the only person that doesn’t really like Spring at all.  I was a little bummed when I realized that Z would be born in April.  It’s just not my favorite month.  Maybe that’s why he HAD to be born then. 

Anyway, I’ve been in a slump.

Over the weekend, I got kicked out of my funk a bit.  I spent some time with my family and then I spent some time with some friends.  I had a good cry & had a really good talk with a friend (the 2 overlapped actually).  And then that was it.  I cleared the air with a couple people on Monday, got some stuff accomplished on Tuesday.  Suddenly, BOOM….I’m feeling better.  Weird. 

Once I started checking in with my friends, I noticed that they had a lot going on too.  While I was hibernating, a really good friend made a really difficult, major decision in her life.  I wish that I’d been there a little more for her, but she seems okay.  Another friend told me that she was exhausted from being the one that was always helping people…and that sometimes she needed help too.  A third friend is beginning to address some unresolved issues she has with her family…things have come to a head.

At work the other day, I was talking to a friend with a life situation eerily similar to mine.  She’s a working mom, she and her husband both work crazy schedules and never see each other, they have no family near-by & she just feels like she’s treading water with no boat in sight.  I can COMPLETELY relate.  We talk about it every so often.  One will be talking, trying to find just the right metaphor, and the other will be nodding vigorously and saying “YEAH!  EXACTLY!”.  Damn…I wish we were neighbors. 

While talking to this co-worker, I mentioned that I’d noticed that a lot of people around me seemed to be having a hard time with various things.  I know that the economy has a lot of people feeling down, but this seems different.  Unemployment isn’t the issue, everybody who needs a job has one.  Nobody’s about to lose their house or their car.  I guess it’s a possibility that the economy is indirectly to blame.  The evening news has been a bit of a downer (more so than usual) and when you’re surrounded by unhappiness and frustration it’s bound to rub off a bit.

Later that evening I noticed a status update on Facebook by a girl I went to high school with.  She was a few years younger, my sister’s year, and I never knew her THAT well….but she played field hockey with me and I always liked her.  Her status read: “… is physically and mentally exhausted.  Will I ever truly be happy again?”.  When I read this, it made me really sad.  She has a young daughter and on a couple of occasions we’ve exchanged wall posts about the chaos of raising a toddler.  I knew that she’s been dealing with a lot, but honestly have no idea what happened to bruise her spirit.

I live with this insane fear of not being remembered, or overstepping the line of familiarity with people from my past.  I remember (most) people really well and could pick up an old inside joke 10 years later or make an obscure reference from high school.  Of course, that freaks some people out and makes me look like an obsessed stalker.  Because of this, I don’t always respond to old friends’ posts.  I don’t want to come on too strong or make them feel self-conscious. 

This time though, when I read this update, I just felt that a response was necessary.  I thought about how many people I knew who were feeling pain and I wanted to help.  I wanted to make her feel better.  I wanted to make all my friends feel better.  I wrote to her and told her that I was sending her good thoughts.  She immediately wrote back and thanked me.  It was so simple, but I think that it brought happiness to both of us.

Sometimes you need to bring  joy to others in order to find joy in yourself.  That’s the point I’ve hit- I’ve come through a rough patch and now I want to pull others up with me.  I can be there for the people I care about.  It’s the one way I know that I can help.

It’s nothing but love.

Nothing But Flowers….

A colleague of mine posted this link via Twitter…. http://tinyurl.com/7j43ey

Basically, because the economy has dipped and people are buying less, many stores are expected to close in 2009. Even chains with solid performance are expected to cut/downsize/adjust. Big box stores are closing (and, after this slow holiday season, will continue to close) and without the large anchor stores, strip malls are getting less traffic. In turn, smaller store in these centers are being forced to close.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want the economy to go to hell. I don’t want people to lose their jobs. However, I must admit, the idea of a few strip malls closing down completely isn’t completely bad.

I live in the middle of chair-store, strip-mall hell. It’s disgusting. In certain places you can’t distinguish Douglasville from any other suburb of Atlanta, or any other suburb in the rest of the country. There’s a part of me that would show up cheering if they decided to bulldoze a couple strips down. Of course, they’d be more likely to let the structures stand abandoned and rot while there was another shopping center constructed down the street. (A girl can dream though, right?)

The whole thing makes me think of the Talking Heads song ‘(Nothing but) Flowers’.

 

While the rest of the world laments the downturn of the economy, I’ll be dreaming of wildflowers…….

“This was a Pizza Hut, now it’s all covered with daisies……”