There is not much happening this year on the streets of Bedford Falls. The Christmas decorations went up on Main Street, same as always, but it's just not the same. Old man Gower's drug store moved out to the by-pass years ago and was bought out by Rite-Aid. The Building and Loan is a tanning salon now, and across the street is the Thrift Store.
The Building and Loan was bought out by Countrywide Mortgage. George, being George, fought the good fight, but with all the refis done around town and the sweet offer made to Uncle Billy, plus the shares Mr. Potter gladly sold, George didn't stand a chance. Mr. Potter had other plans after merging his bank with Bank of America; he leveled his properties in Potter's Field and developed the new Potter's Field Mall. That's where all the Christmas activities can be found now.
But it's been a tough year. The plastics plant built by Sam Wainwright relocated to China, throwing half the town out of work. Bert the cop was killed in a gang fight over turf, not far from the old the Bedford Falls High School. The troubles have driven the more affluent families to place their children in the Potter's Christian Academy. The old school had been in trouble since the jobs began to leave town. They don't use the pool under the gym floor anymore, too much maintenance and too expensive. It became just one of many extracurricular activities done away with when the tax base collapsed.
Uncle Billy sold his house while the market was still strong, and with his proceeds from the sale of the Building and Loan bought a condo in a retirement community outside of Orlando. Ma Bailey had to let the boarding house go, too many rough customers and her age caught up with her. The boarding house didn't sell for much, being in an old neighborhood and too close to town.
Ma moved in with George and Mary; she didn't want to because of the many stairs and limited bathrooms. But she had little in the way of savings and only a small Social Security pension. It barely covered her supplemental coverage and George couldn't afford to keep up both homes. They gave her the downstairs bedroom and now she spends most of her days watching cable TV and Fox News.
Harry and Ruth Bailey split up. Harry's repeated deployments overseas put a strain on their marriage. Ruth complained after Harry's third deployment that he had changed and wasn't the same man she married.
With the Building and Loan gone, George drifted from job to job, first as a foreman with a construction company, then as a mortgage broker for Countrywide. They had to let him go; he just didn't have the imagination that they where looking for. He kept pushing thirty-year conventional fixed rate mortgages, and he failed to understand that in the new low-wage economy few could qualify under those terms. It finally came to a head when George questioned the veracity of the figures in a no-documentation loan.
Mary got a job as a cashier at the Dollar General, working for Mr. Othello, to try and help out. Even though Mary had a college degree, there were few jobs of any type in Bedford Falls. With no money for college, Pete joined the Marine Corps and has been deployed overseas, and Tommy works as a mechanic at a shop out on the by-pass. Janey moved to California and calls only occasionally on holidays.
Zuzu works as a cocktail waitress at Martini's, goes to college part-time at Potter State, and still lives at home. The family hopes to sing Christmas carols after midnight, just like they used to do in the old days, after George gets home from his current job as assistant manager at the Wal-Mart Super Center down the road from the mall. Life is still wonderful, but not as wonderful as it used to be.
There just aren't any more angels around, and the splashes coming from the old bridge are common now. After all, they're strangers to the Baileys, and the Baileys are strangers to them.