In their idle moments, many wondered what old man Cummings saw in Deerton to justify his largesse. Certainly, no one begrudged him his investments in the town; the new town hall and modest civic auditorium bore his name, as did the new high school and middle school. The roads were better, and many of the grand old lumber baron houses that had been quietly going to seed were now maintained and rented by Cummings’ stand-ins.

The old man rarely granted interviews and rarer still were his visits; he preferred to have himself represented by an associate whenever something new bearing his name opened. Some people blamed the time he had been mobbed by reporters coming out of Deerton First United Methodist Church for his personal divestiture in the town (even as his monetary investiture increased).

But, in one of the final interviews recorded before his death, Cummings had the following to say from his summer home in Hopewell:

“I gave that my old hometown might have a future,” he said, “and I never returned because I knew, in my heart of hearts, that to have that future, the rosy past which still ties me to that place heart and soul would have to perish forever. I’m glad to have arrested its decline, but I’m afraid I wouldn’t recognize it anymore.”

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