The Sikeston Country Club - a 73-year fixture in the social and business life of this community - closed their doors this week - the victim of declining membership and a sagging economy.
The Country Club was a WPA project in Sikeston that was funded in 1938 along with the Sikeston Armory and the Sikeston Public Library. And like so many other projects in that timeframe, the Country Club had clearly seen finer days.
Membership topped 600 nearly 20 years ago but when the doors were closed for the last time this week, just over 200 Sikeston families remained as members.
When any business closes its doors it's clearly not a good sign for a community. And there is wide speculation that someone - a golf course developer perhaps - will eventually buy the club and reopen in some form.
But for now, the longtime club will remain in foreclosure because of high debt and a steadily dwindling membership roster.
There are those who have always felt the Country Club was an elitist organization catering to the affluent in Sikeston. And to be real honest, that impression may find traction in some quarters.
But by and large, the Country Club was a place for businessmen to swap stories and a place to bring prospective newcomers into our community.
Unfortunately, the business model that was the Country Club has long gone. There are countless swimming pools throughout the community that attract summer activities. There is a second golf course in Sikeston that is growing in popularity. And the traditional model of showing off the Country Club to prospective newcomers is no longer as attractive as it once was.
Regardless of your impression of the Country Club, the loss of any business is surely not a good sign for any community. Perhaps it's a reflection of our 30-year decline in population. Or perhaps a stalled economy has forced some families to cut non-essential expenses like Country Club membership.
For a number of years, I have commented countless times on the erosion of the social and economic base of our community. Those comments are not pessimistic but rather realistic assessments of a gradual decline in many aspects that once made our community the social and economic hub of this region.
The loss of the Country Club is by no means a death blow. But it's just another example of the changes that we've witnessed over recent years.