Friday, September 07, 2012

You Can't Go Home Again

That was the name of Thomas Wolfe's posthumously published novel about a novelist who writes a book with many references to his hometown and incurs the wrath of town's residents. Of course every writer puts bits and pieces of their past in everything they write. One of my sisters told me she can't read my stories because she keeps trying to figure out where I got the various ideas/characters/references from. She apparently doesn't believe me when I tell her they come from Storyworld, the parallel universe in which characters live while searching for a writer to write about them.

I did go “home” again in August That is I went to my home town for a few days, saw some family, and a couple of old friends. It was a lovely time and I took a little time one afternoon and drove around town. Some things were very different and some things have not changed a bit. The thing I was happiest about was how beautiful two of the places that shaped my life – and fired my imagination – were still.

The house above is 327 Chestnut Street where my Uncle Tom Valentine lived all his life until he died a few months ago at the age of eighty-nine. I lived the first six years of my life in that house and it was recently purchased by a couple who are in the process of fixing it up. I'm so happy that it was purchased by people who will love it. I cannot tell you how many hours I spent on that porch or in the back yard or in the apple tree beside it reading books and just daydreaming.

One of the best things about that house was the alley in back of it. It was a wonderful, narrow little alley, sheltered by trees and bordered on both sides by the backs of garages, and fences covered with greenery, and gardens. When we were little my brother and I used to play in that alley. I remember finding a little cement bird in the weeds one time. Probably a lost ornament from some long-ago birdbath or garden ornament. The alley lead to the park below and many times my mother and I would walk down that alley so Jack and I could play. It was a perfect park with swings and slides and huge sandboxes.

I was pleased to see that the park is still in great shape and seems to be popular. Those big stone pillars marked all the entrances to the park. Years ago they had round big round lamps on top of them. I remember that when I was little policemen still “walked a beat” back then. I can remember standing up in bed at night looking out the window until I saw a policeman walk up our street under the street lamp.

So, though you can't go home again, you can still remember, And sometimes there is a lot more stuff lurking in your memory than you thought. You see an old, familiar place and the memories come flooding back. … so you gather the up and keep them until someone from Storyworld has an idea of how to use them.

Thanks for reading.

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