Sometimes, I drive by our old family home, slow down and gaze at the old house wistfully. It holds so many memories, mostly great memories, a few not so good, but the great memories vastly outnumber the not so good. If those walls could talk, they would have so many amazing stories to tell.
Those walls would tell you that the house was big enough that we’d often play hide and seek inside it, running up and down the stairs, hidings in the closets, under the beds, and in the attic. As a small child, I would often try to straddle the stair railing and slide down it, only to be reprimanded by an adult. It was fun though!
This house holds precious recollections. Those walls would tell a story of a world that we no longer live in, a pre-9/11, pre-Digital Age, freer and more carefree world. Of a world that was wholesome, fresh and filled with wonder! We lived there with my grandmother for years. After we grew up and moved away, she continued to live there until about twelve years before she died.
It was the home we lived in when I was born, the home we would always return to after my Daddy went off to the military and during our time living out of state.
We celebrated many wonderful Christmases and Thanksgivings in that house. New Year’s Eve parties were a blast, with lots of music, food, fun, and togetherness. We also had many cookouts, barbecues, picnics in the huge backyard behind the house.
My dad and several uncles who were the family musicians, would often get a band together and play music in that backyard, attracting neighbors from all over the neighborhood who wanted to hear good music and have good, clean and drama-free fun. Sadly, you couldn’t do this today without booze, drugs or disturbing the peace.
During these celebrations, the whole family would get together, sometimes up to twenty of us and it was the love which made that house a home. The tiny town and neighborhood itself was thriving and bursting with life! We held parades every Memorial Day and Fourth of July.
During Halloween, the community would be swarming with trick-or-treaters (I was one of them) and every house had its porch light on with residents sitting outside, in full Halloween dress, a huge bowl of candy and goodies in laps, waiting to greet the little kiddies! Some even had scary music playing and spooky props in the front yards or porches! In those days, it never even occurred to us to be on the lookout for muggers, rapists, and sex traffickers. The worse we had to worry about was some bigger kid swiping our trick-or-treat bag and running off with it.
Kids could play in the street and people could sit outside or work in the yard without fear. Elderly couples walked hand-in-hand down the street during the Spring and Fall months for exercise. Teenagers and young adults could drive by with the window or drop-top down and good music blaring from the car speakers.
Even better, my mother and I could walk around the block at night and never worry about being mugged and we could sleep with the bedroom windows up and the cool night breeze blowing on us through the screen. My generation lived in a totally different world than the generations that followed us. I truly feel sorry for the kids and young adults today! I wish they could have grown up in the carefree and kid-friendly world my brother, sister and I grew up in.
I now mourn the home we once knew. It is now abandoned, unkempt and overgrown. The neighborhood in which it sits is much different now, disheveled and plagued with crime. Sadly, most of our once-thriving small-towns and neighborhoods are only a shell of their formers selves. If those walls could talk, if they could feel things, they would mourn with me.
How I grieve for small-town America!