Guest column

Cary water tower means too much to tear down

September 3, 2013 

I figured the water tower across from Cary High School would remain there forever, a symbol of small-town pride.

Now the tower has become a source of controversy and debate, because the town is considering tearing it down.

Why anyone would consider removing an old Cary landmark that has such emotional ties for so many people? It is not an eyesore; even if it has no usefulness as a utility, its absence would certainly be heartfelt.

I recall the first time I saw the tower, the bold letters and numbers denoting the year of the current high school graduating class. I thought, “Man, that’s cool!”

I imagined the day it would say “class of 1977,” and it immediately gave me a sense of belonging to a very special, select group.

The huge numbers rolled ever closer to ’77 as the years passed, like an odometer of life, until the glorious day double sevens were painted on it.

For that entire year, the tower belonged to us seniors. Whenever we drove by or saw that simple art in the background of our daily living, it made us proud.

During football games the giant steel sentinel glowed brightly over the visitors’ stands like Cary High’s most loyal fan.

It is like the big blue cherry on top of an almost-perfect all-American scene.

Any money spent considering options that exclude the preservation and maintenance of the water tower, in my opinion, is wasted. The water tower is not only a great and beloved CHS tradition; it is a marker that says, “We are Cary, and we are proud!”

I can’t imagine that bit of sky without that big metal friend casting a large shadow during the day and glowing hauntingly throughout the night. I bet there are even many who never attended Cary High who feel that the tower’s destruction is unnecessary and that its absence would rob Cary of some of its ever-fading small-town charm.

Those of us who matriculated through the Cary school system were rewarded with our class number displayed on that very special site. For nearly 50 years, local high school seniors looked to the tower and smiled widely when their “number was up.”

It is unthinkable that the tradition could ever end. Well, we better do more than think about it. It is time to act.

Do not let the water tower fade into history without a proper defense. Let’s do what we can to ensure all future discussions concerning it are about maintenance and improvement.

Let’s hold on to something that, upon a quick glance, might seem ordinary but in fact has deep meaning and significance that can never be replaced.

Let it stand.

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