Like so many others, I watch It’s a Wonderful Life every holiday season because I never tire of this classic film about love, capitalism and hope in small town America of the past. Although I know the plot by heart after many years of viewing, I am still captivated by Mary’s hope and belief in husband George Bailey’s frustration as life hands him one disappointment after another. He persists in doing the right thing time after time, in contrast to Mr. Potter’s cruelty, bigotry and greed.
As this universal tale unfolds, I am still drawn in by Jimmy Stewart’s truthful acting and Frank Capra’s delightful, cacophonous dialogue. I watch Mary and George as they raise a family, put sweat equity into their crumbling mansion and work every day to have a positive impact on the members of their community. I am stricken by constant reminders of themes that persist throughout our culture: fear of immigrants, banking debacles, housing problems, and disappointment in the American dream that most people have come to expect.
One of the most amazing scenes takes place at the beginning of the film at the Bedford Falls High School (BFHS) graduation where George and Mary rediscover each other as adults. Dancing obliviously, they are tricked into falling into the swimming pool, which lies beneath the floor of the gymnasium.
Watching this scene a few nights ago, I heard a line I had not previously focused on as the high school principal boasts about the amazing new pool that appears almost magically at the touch of a button: “If it weren’t for this, we’d have to have a whole new building!” (I think you can guess where this is going.)
The community discussion that has been taking place over the past several months about the OPRF swimming pool immediately came to mind, as I, like many members of our town, have been wracking my brain for a solution to the pool dilemma that would prevent the destruction of a much-used, relatively-new parking garage.
Our teachers and neighbors would lose a valuable resource because, unlike the BFHS students, many OPRF upperclassmen drive to school — and there are lots of them. It also comes in handy for the attendees of the Farmers Market, a very popular gathering place.
So as a last ditch effort, I am asking the hard-working school board members to find a more creative solution to our small-town dilemma, one that won’t create chaos, will be more affordable, and will spread more goodwill in the community.
Who knows? Perhaps it will “help an angel get his wings.”