Snap Out Of It, Donna

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Maybe I need someone to hit me over the head with this brick. I have been down in the dumps sad for a week now.

It all started with a three day weekend trip back to my hometown. I won’t mention the town but it is the Land of Dick Van Dyke, Jerry Van Dyke, Gene Hackman, Bobby Short and Donald O’Connor. A little town of about 34,000 people. I secretly think the cows and chickens got counted. It’s that small.

As soon as we crossed the sign announcing the number of residents, memories of the 50’s and 60’s flooded my head and clouded my eyes. The area looked sort of how I remembered. I could see the hotel we would be staying at. New name. Same building. Spruced up for the weekend reunion.

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The place was packed. Full of people like me who returned for 3 days to… to… I am not really sure what. I hadn’t been back home in YEARS. And if memory serves me, the last four times over the last 40 years were for funerals.

After checking in, the first few hours were spent lying and looking like a deer-in-headlights. Each person to approach me had to tell their “story”. How they lived on the same street. Or played jump rope with me. Or their sister liked my brother. Yes, I remember you. Not!! Scenes like this went on for most of the first day. A few faces I actually DID remember. And like me, familiar facial features had been replaced with wrinkles, sagging, a bit of gray here and there, a walking cane here and there, a few in need of a Weight Watchers membership card. OMG!! Where did all these old people come from!! πŸ™‚

The second day had a few bright spots. I saw some relatives. Cousins. No aunts, uncles, grandparents. Those generations who used to live there are now smiling down on us from above. Gone, gone and gone. And no one from my immediate family lives in the area any longer. They are all in Ohio and weren’t able to make the trip.

So… it was up to me to meet and greet and try to shake out a few memories to attach to the hugs I kept getting. It’s funny but I think some of them were having memory issues same as me. I overheard my name as I walked by a group of people at the picnic hubby and I attended on the second day. I could hear, “that’s Donna, that’s Ducky”, the dreaded nickname I got stuck with until the age of 12. It was good to know I wasn’t the only person struggling with Who Are These People!!

Saturday night was a fun night. Dancing. Now, seriously, how many of you are interested in seeing 60-70 year old people dance? Hands up. Thought so. Well, good thing some of the younger townsfolk didn’t mind spending the evening with the Oldies But Goodies. They were fun to watch. I even got asked to dance a few times. By hubby. When the DJ played something slow that we knew.

And then out of the blue, my first time to set eyes on him, the crowd parted and there he was. The Love Of My Young Life!! He made his way across the room and headed in my direction. Even after all these years he was still recognizable. The eyes. He had these dreamy eyes. Well, the eyes were still dreamy but there was a noticeable emptiness. No front teeth. LOL!! Oh my, we all age in different ways, don’t we? I introduced him to hubby. I had no idea how long it had been since I last saw my TLOMYL. He said it had been 41 years. Ah… I see someone had been keeping track. πŸ™‚

OK, so we made it through Friday, the 1st day’s Meet and Greet at the hotel, then Saturday’s afternoon picnic and evening dancing. Sunday was church service and an afternoon talent show. But we decided to skip the talent show to make the rounds and TAKE PICTURES instead. It would be our last day there.

I think this is where my sadness kicked in.

Remember that brick up there? That is all that’s left of where we lived until I was around 10 or 11. The whole block is gone. I could see through the fenced in area.

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No clue what business was being conducted behind it. As I looked around, taking photos, I saw a pile of bricks. I needed something from the area of my youth. So I took one. I have plans to turn it into a doorstop.

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On to the next photo shooting stop. Things didn’t get any better.

My teen-age home. It now stands empty and rundown.

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Hubby said, “you could have at least moved the garbage can.” I walked up the front steps, tried the doorknob, AND THE DOOR OPENED. OMG!! Now what, I was thinking. I peeked inside. Full of mattresses and other household junk. Ceiling in the front room peeling and showing the wooden slats. I could hear hubby saying, “Donna, now you have gone too far.” Husbands!!

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That was a pretty house in its day. I loved sitting in the sunroom watching the neighbors.

Next.. My grandmother’s house. Where she taught me how to hem. Not in the best shape but someone is living there.

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On to my favorite aunt and uncle’s house. It is smaller than I remember.

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As I took pictures, the lady living there came from the front porch down to our car. We chatted for a few minutes about the fun times I had sleeping over with my cousin. As we drove off, I heard her say to someone, “some of the old original town’s people.”

Continuing on… the church I was raised in (now empty and has landmark protection status).

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The building where I had club meetings and drill team practice.

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A grade school on the street we lived. They sometimes had dances on the weekend for us kids.

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This used to be one of the places we hung out, ate junk food and danced. It was either The Sweet Shoppe or The Chicken Shack. I can’t remember which. Right in the middle of this building. Long gone…

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This is where the sign to the Carver Park I knew once hung.

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Nothing but an open field now.

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The sign was moved to the opposite side of the street in front of a much smaller park.

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Back in my day, that place was huge!! It was on three levels. Low income housing on 1st level with softball fields. Street level had a community activities building and a very large park area with picnic tables, playground equipment and a double basketball court. Third level, more housing. I spent many hours there with my friends. This is where hubby first saw me. At this park. In a tight pink dress. Guess the dress was memorable and made an impression. πŸ™‚

Moving on to my best friend’s house. The family members have either moved out of state or passed on in life.

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I hadn’t planned to take this picture. We were driving by to get to another street. But hubby insisted. A friend of his had dated my BFF and hubby remembered the house. So, ok, one photo for his Down Memory Lane Collection.

The last stop was what used to be General Electric.

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Though I did work there for a hot minute making $80 a week during the summer of 1962, I mainly took the photo for my mom. She worked there FOREVER. 20 some years. I think another company sat up shop but now it is closed, empty.

So, that’s how I spent my Labor Day weekend. Trying my best to remember the faces and places of my youth. Taking it all in with my eyes, ears and nose. Who knows when our paths will cross again.

You know how they say you can never go back home. Well, actually, you CAN go back home. Just don’t expect that the place stood still. It won’t have.


7 comments on “Snap Out Of It, Donna

  1. Quilty says:

    Hugs for you, Donna.
    I lost a large number of significant “pieces” of my childhood in the recent Christchurch earthquakes. Buildings were destroyed, some left as piles of rubble, others already demolished, the landscape completely changed as hillsides and other geological features collapsed, roads ripped open, and huge gaping holes left behind. Memories are affected by the changes that take place with the passage of time, but they still exist as memories and can be treasured and cherished in your heart forever. Don’t let them go, but rejoice in that you do have them and that they have become a part of who you are. Nothing needs to change that. They are forever a part of you.
    Love you. ~ Quilty.

  2. Lennette says:

    I loved your story Donna, and the pictures too! I know what you mean about your hometown changing and no longer matching your memories. It can make you very sad. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your present life, it’s just a reminder that change is inevitable. Thank you so much for telling us your story and sharing the pictures with us!!!

  3. Debra says:

    Awww! Even if it wasn’t the happiest visit, it did make for a good story. Good photos too- some of those buildings are lovely! We don’t have anything like them here. (The church and the house on Jackson, I could see myself spending all day in that front room with all those little windows!)

  4. Carol says:

    Hi Donna
    Actually, I live pretty close to the town I grew up in. I go there pretty often to the Outlet Mall. Never see anyone I know. Its a beach town now. I remember how much I looked forward to my 25 year class reunion. Kept hoping to see the friends I missed. No one I cared about came. Big Bust.

    Yep, its sad to see how much our towns have changed.

    Great post.

  5. Tanya says:

    Your stroll down memory lane was a beautiful blog to read. Your words paint a golden-gilded picture for those who read your blog.
    It reminds me of the times when I used to take those journeys when I lived closer to the place I grew up. I love the place where I call home now. I plan on spending the rest of my life here.
    I hope you are able to rise above the bitter sweetness of days gone by and be happy with your present niche in life. It is always special to go back and re-visit, for it is those places and things that have helped mold us for who we are.
    Thanks so much for sharing your pics and memories!

  6. Crystal says:

    Oh Donna,
    I can understand your mixed emotions as you returned to your hometown. For many of us, it’s a bittersweet experience. As adults, we continue to carry magical “snapshots”, in our minds and hearts, of those beloved places from out past. It’s often a very rude shock to return to them as they are now.

    Like Carol, I live close to the town where I spent many joy-filled summers as a child. It’s a shell of what it used to be. I’ve seen it *slowly* disintegrate more and more over the years – which has been a real tug at the heart. Maybe you are the luckier one – only seeing your former home once in a great while.

    That being said, when I close my eyes – I do STILL see all the former sparkle of my childhood summers. Those buildings and play areas are ever bright and full of smiles!!! πŸ˜€

    Once a little more times passes, I know you’ll be feeling the same.


  7. Lillian Dummer says:

    Very interesting pictures enjoyed looking at them very much I also loved the quilt soOOOO very pretty and you did a wonderful job. But I did not see a comment thread on it so I will put it on here.

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