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.
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!!
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.
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.
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.
On to the next photo shooting stop. Things didn’t get any better.
My teen-age home. It now stands empty and rundown.
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!!
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.
On to my favorite aunt and uncle’s house. It is smaller than I remember.
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).
The building where I had club meetings and drill team practice.
A grade school on the street we lived. They sometimes had dances on the weekend for us kids.
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…
This is where the sign to the Carver Park I knew once hung.
Nothing but an open field now.
The sign was moved to the opposite side of the street in front of a much smaller park.
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.
Moving on to my best friend’s house. The family members have either moved out of state or passed on in life.
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.
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.