A story in Monday's Lewiston Tribune illustrated that principle in action. Pullman cannot afford to look towards an obsolete economic model, as Don Pelton so eloquently put it in the Daily News last Friday. And as Don pointed out, the demise of Garfield has had nothing to do with Wal-Mart, but the decline of agriculture.
Nap time is over for town of Garfield
Like all small towns dotting the Palouse farm country, Garfield was founded more than a century ago around agriculture, commerce and the day-to-day wants and needs of rural people.
Two major railroad lines crossed here. Farm equipment dealers thrived. Schools flourished. Banks made loans with few questions asked. Local businesses feasted on an agrarian horn of plenty. Life, say old-timers, was as good here as anywhere in small town America.
But most of the farms, which used to be family oriented, got bought up and evolved into corporate entities. Asphalt turned muddy roads into thoroughfares for ever-improving transportation modes. People began to travel greater distances to work, shop and play. The day's bustle gave way to a yawn. And another bedroom community eventually took root.
"You know how the demise of these old towns goes," says Archie Neal, who worked for 35 years for the local J.E. Love farm equipment fabricator company. "When you had a farmstead on every quarter-section back then, it's a little different than one on every three sections today."
"The bulk of the people living here now, who aren't retired, work in Pullman or Moscow," says Forrest Miller, a longtime resident.
And like so many bedroom communities left amid a struggling agriculture economy, Garfield napped into the new millennium until suddenly an alarm went off.
"It was kind of a wake-up call," Neal says of the day the only cafe in town closed its doors. "A restaurant is the central part of a community. Without it, a town doesn't have the soul it needs."
And that's what Garfield was about to become -- a town of 600 people with nowhere to gather, no place to nourish its collective psyche.