Our Chamber members look great at 100

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I suspect many reading these words always believed 2020 was a long time away. Over the weekend, I heard 2020 was the fictitious year in which The Jetsons cartoon was set, but I looked it up and it’s not true. Most believe George, Jane, Judy, Elroy and Astro live in the year 2063, so there is still time for flying cars and Rosie the Robot if our inventors hurry up.

It seems like just yesterday I was at a party hosted by the late Sherman Durst, counting down the minutes of 1999. Shortly before midnight, a couple of us sneaked away to the outdoor breaker box, hoping to shut off the power as a Y2K prank on the man who himself was a notorious prankster. But the breaker box was padlocked aside a sticky note that read, “I’m way ahead of you.” Score another for Mr. Durst.

About a week later, we gathered to look at the photos taken by guests at the party. Yes, those were still the days where one left disposable cameras on the tables, collected them at the end of the evening and waited for prints to be made of the snapped images. Even then, waking up to the year 2020 still seemed forever away.

Yet, here it is. For the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce, 2020 is a big one, as our organization turns 100 years old! None of our organization’s founding fathers are still living, but we are blessed with much archival material that we will be sharing with you throughout our centennial year.

I have to wonder if the year 2020 ever crossed their thoughts. It would have literally seemed an eternity away. I am confident, based on the ideals and foundation they created, the Chamber was built to last. But the strength of the Chamber will always be its ability to be relevant and meaningful to its members in the present. And I suspect that was what originally brought them together.

Speaking of members, we have an impressive number who have been members for long stretches of our 100-year history and we look forward to sharing their stories with you. There is something deeply satisfying when I read the early minute books of the Chamber and see names I know to be the parents, grandparents and great-grandparents of present-day business people who go to work each day as part of a much larger narrative.

Sometimes the minute books make me chuckle when I see issues that are being debated today as if they were new; yet there are variations of the same theme peppered throughout our community’s story of development. Other times I read about programs that were once quite important, but will never again command such attention. That’s the way history works, I suppose.

We have lots of ways we intend to share that history and honor those who made it possible.

This year’s Centennial Chamber Banquet & Awards is not to be missed! But we hope you will share your ideas with us, too. What do you want to know? Is there something you’d like to see? Are you interested in volunteering? Do you have memorabilia about the Chamber or the businesses we have represented the last century that you would be willing to loan? We’d certainly love your help in telling the story.

In this time and space somewhere between horse-drawn carriages and flying cars, I am profoundly grateful to usher in this organizational milestone and excited to recognize the 10 decades of our members who have led us here.

To our members of 2020, happy birthday. I must say, 100 years old looks mighty fine on you.

 

McBride is the president and CEO of the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce.