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The Center Street

A $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill intends to modernize America, but will it demolish what we loved about Center Street?

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A rendering of The Center Street Bakery, Middleboro Massachusetts Circa 1955

It’s the largest infusion of federal investment into infrastructure projects in more than a decade. It’ll change how we move yet again, connect us with one another throughout the 50 states, and significantly address the health, quality and status of the United States. A remarkably bipartisan $1 Trillion plan is poised to transform America’s way of life — yet again.

The $1.2 trillion figure includes funding normally allocated each year for highways and other infrastructure projects. However, $550 billion in new spending will be allocated for new roads, bridges and railroads; electric power grids and broadband, airports, transit and waterways, and finally cybersecurity and climate change.

While U.S. Infrastructure is a national agenda, it was also a hot topic at the recent Council Forum and Mayoral Debate at Lake Park. Since 1994, this southern town’s responsibility for their own streets, utilities, sidewalks, water and safety reflect the nations.

It was President Abraham Lincoln who authorized the first transcontinental railroad which enabled small towns and cities to do business with the nation when he signed the Pacific Railway Act. Dwight D. Eisenhauer wove a U.S. Interstate throughout the 50 states with his signature on the Federal Aid Highway Act. FDR brought light and electricity to rural Americans with the New Deal, and Donald Trump oversaw the U.S.—Mexico Barrier Wall grow to over 700 miles with an Executive Order. However, infrastructure isn’t the result of any one president, company or city council. It’s a consortium of technology, commerce, talent and innovation that is created by us all.

Center Street Bakery

When Maria and Jessie Costa immigrated to the U.S. at the dawn of the 20th century, they came to work and to prosper. Their vegetable farm in southeastern Massachusetts provided fresh produce to local grocers throughout the region. It was a thriving family business upon land the family owned, and soon flourished into the American Dream. When it was absconded by Eminent Domain — the government’s power to take private property and convert it into public use — the farm was destroyed to make way for Interstate 495 which today connects the North Shore around Boston to the Cape. “The government paid fair market value for the farm,” James Record recalls, of his great grandparent’s enterprise; which was soon replaced by a far greater Outer Loop of commerce. At the core of infrastructure is Public Works projects and the very cornerstone of a community is collaboration.

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Mary D'Agostino, Middleboro Massachusetts 1955

Few ever knew she grew up on a farm. The eldest of 13 children, the late Mary D’Agostino was matron of the morning breakfast routine where family members and ranch hands would convene. “I despised making donuts in those days,” she’d say, of a day and time when modern conveniences were dear. But modernizing the infrastructure in the 1950’s brought light, electricity and highways to rural America; enabling D’Agostino to take her culinary tricks of the trade to a growing concern, a thoroughly modern mid-century business.

If infrastructure is the architect of society a community is its soul. “Coming together is a beginning and staying together is progress,” Henry Ford once said, founder of the Ford Motor Company and inventor of the assembly line. “But working together in a common goal is the truest definition of success.”

While Center Street was known as a Portuguese style bakery, it was remembered for re-distributing day-old goods to family, friends and those in need. At a day and time when supermarkets and shelves of boxes and cans were the order of the day, Center Street Bakery in Middleboro Massachusetts was among the last vestiges of the old world; where ovens still purred in the early morning hours, and the poor and the privileged were always treated the same. It was an increasingly bygone world of 100% customer satisfaction, in a relatively small corner of the world, a shining city on a hill.

In Loving Memory
Mary D’Agostino

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