Walter Anderson: Psychiatrist
We consider a generation about 20 years. Generations go through the same kinds of things in growing up. Kids that are growing up 30 years ago faced the same problems that kids growing up today face. What has changed are the external things; social life, transportation, and knowledge, technological and scientific knowledge. But in just growing up kids have the same kinds of problems and have had for centuries.
There are a lot of community things that hold the community together, a lot of community spirit. Groveton has that quality to it. Something about this area reminds you of a small town. In the way the community grows up, the neighborhood kids, the neighborhood school - it's very much like growing up in a small town.
The younger generation is great. They're going though the same sort of things that everyone goes through and their ability to handle the problems as they face them is good. I recognize that some of them are having difficulties. This would happen anytime.
What has happened to Route 1 is that it has to be more of a corridor that leads people through and traffic has increased a great deal. Shopping areas have opened up the last 15 years. It's made us less dependent on down town. The changes on Route 1 have been able to bring the community functions closer to the people here.
Do you feel families are drawing apart from each other?
There are instances of it. But I don't think that the percentage is any higher than is any other time. Times the family really was not in touch was in time of war. Historically that's the time when families are really torn apart, either the Second World War or the Korean War or those who were affected by the Vietnam War.
Now the other kinds of things that keep families apart are domestic. They are thinking of divorce now, or separation because of marital difficulties. There is more of it nationwide and it filters down to this community. I don't think it is a good thing, but I don't think this area is any worse than some of the other areas in the country.
I remember at Groveton when we had programs in the SPTA on drugs and the biggest outcry, of course, was about pot. How very upset everyone was about it, especially the parents! Now most parents are not that upset by pot, but there was certainly a time when it was a very touchy issue. It was very difficult for parents and school officials to understand just what to do about it. If you discovered somebody using it, did that mean they had serious sociological problems or did that mean they were going to go into hard drugs and become addicted? It's settled down to the point where parents and teachers realize that it's the type of individual that uses drugs that you have to be concerned about. Somebody that's using drugs is turning to drugs as a way of answering or dealing with their insecurities in a way that they don't have to face up to them.
We should consider alcohol as being probably a much bigger problem than the other drugs. Of things that are abused, alcohol is certainly the greatest. It has been and probably will be and is a more serious problem in this area than other drugs.
If the father is alcoholic it makes a lot of difference to the family. If someone of the family, the kids, are caught experimenting with drugs, then that affects the family. If there are users in the family we can say that some individuals of the family unit are not coping with their problems very well.
I'm saying there have always been family problems and there always will be family problems because these are problems of growing up and living together. Families are more mobile than they ever have been. We are mobile around here because of the high percentage of military and government workers. It used to be when a family grew up, a grandfather and grandmother on both sides were in the same town, or the son grew up on a piece of land and he stayed right next to dad and got a family and raised it. There are still communities in this country where people live and die in the same community, but that's not true in this area. I'm sure you have a hard time finding people that spend all their life here.