Sunday, August 28, 2005

Old Homestead Revisited

As a child, I lived in quite a few places: Virginia Beach, Va;, Bellevue, NJ; Albany, NY, Glenmont, NY, Louisville, KY, Walpole, MA and Cedar Grove, NJ. I attended 7 different schools, which made me feel rather nomadic and without a home town to call my own. Be that as it may, we decided to visit Walpole, Mass., the town I lived in from 1962-1965 (5th through 7th grade). The amazing thing was that, even after the passing of 40 years, I started to remember things as we came into town. Yes, here was the street Mom and us kids used to walk into town. (Remember when families had only one car?). Yes, here was the bridge where I fell walking home from school and busted up my nose. Two nice old ladies in fur coats (before the days of PETA) picked me up and brought me home. (I went with them despite all my mother's warnings about taking a ride from strangers.) There was the spot where Mr. Chase's store stood. Pre mini-mart days, it didn't sell gas, but it did sell bread and milk and most of all (to the delight of us kids) candy, Beatle cards, and Baseball cards. There was the truck garage, still there after all the years. They were the meanies in those days, because they had knocked down the hill behind our house. This was the place where we played house in the woods. The "houses" were outlined with stones taken from the rocky New England soil and carpeted with pine needles. We sledded down the hill in the winter. Mary Ann one time used her new sweater as the sled, leaving pinkish-red streaks behind in the snow.) They covered over the "swamp", which we explored when it was iced over in the winter. We turned down Norfolk, which seemed like such a big street when I was a kid. The gravel trucks still traveled down it.

Then we turned onto McDonald Circle, and there it was, looking the same as I remembered it. A two story house, with a little "breezeway" and an adjoining apartment where Grandma lived, and a garage. It was here that I tried to roller skate and wrecked the new blue corduroy pants Mom had just made me. It was here that Mom was a Cub Scout den mother for my brother and his friends, going to Walpole Woodworkers and getting scraps of wood for projects. Being artistic and good at crafts, Mom's den always won the monthly prize for best project, though others complained! It was here that Mom made John a big teepee and Dad built us girls a play house. It was here that I saw a shooting star while trick-or-treating one Halloween and here that I went to my first dance. It was a junior high dance, with all the boys on one side of the room and all the girls on the other. And it was here, one November day in 1963 that I got off the school bus in tears and ran into the house to tell Mom and Grandma that President John F. Kennedy was dead. Oh, the memories of childhood came flooding back, almost overwhelming. I knew there was one more thing I had to do. We had to find Old Stone School, where I went to 5th and 6th grade and the pond across from it where we ice skated during recess and drank hot chocolate to keep warm. We retraced our route and, sure enough we found the pond.

Across from it, stood a building that looked like it had once been a school, but not the school I remembered. Now it held the Town Hall.

All in all, it was astounding that the town had remained so much the same. Sometimes you can go home again.


At 1:53 PM, Blogger Zandra said...

That is awesome to see your old haunts. I love seeing people's childhood homes.

See you at the cabin in a few weeks


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