Today, as my Mom, now at home, has been doing much better, I decided to visit the two houses where I lived as a child. As I approached the first, up a windy lane, I observed that except for one house which I didn’t remember, the houses all seemed the same. Sure, a few, notably our one-time home, had different landscaping another was painted a darker shade, but little had changed.
The house looked different. I was spared the embarrassment of asking to see the room I shared with my brother (until I was seven) as no one answered the door when I rang.
I took the long route to my old house and was saddened to see that the Old Town Ice Cream Parlor where my Dad used to treat us on many a summer evening had disappeared as had the Daily Donoughts. I can still remember the daisy on its neon sign.
I parked just up the street from the house where I had spent the better part of my childhood. Situated next to the large wooded estate of a Midwestern mattress magnate, it had been an ideal place for a young boy to grow up. We could explore those woods as we made up stories about the old lady who lived in the castle-like stone house. If she caught us on her property, we had convinced ourselves, she’d imprison in her drafty cellar, perhaps torturing us with the old rusty farm equipment we found near a dilapidated building on the grounds.
Woods to explore! And an old house which helped activate our young imaginations. What a place for a boy to grow up.
I walked those woods today, now a local park. They no longer seemed to go on forever as they once had. If we got lost, we might never find our way home. But, just today, I followed one path to its end–on a suburban street. Those big woods had gotten a lot smaller since I last explored them.