Last night I took a detour on my way home to drive down the main street of my hometown. I thought I might possibly see someone I knew. After all, the advantage of a small town was walking down the sidewalk and seeing familiar faces. It’s not that I hadn’t been back to my hometown—I was there during the Christmas Parade a couple years ago. At that time, there was activity going on, and I had a chance to visit with people I hadn’t seen in years.
At about 7 o’clock on a Friday night, it was a different situation. I turned onto the street and felt like I had entered the Twilight Zone. Abandoned buildings stood in spots that had at one time bustled with activity. I could barely make out the lettering on Cooper’s Grocery Store where every Saturday we filled up two carts with groceries for our big family. Where was the drugstore where I bought milkshakes, malts, or cherry cokes served up by the owner, Bob Hagedorn?
The only two vehicles on the entire street were parked in front of the Gallery which used to be Nolting’s Department Store. Where Kipp’s Drygoods had been, junk was piled in the display windows.
I made a U-turn at the end of the street just like everyone did when I was growing up. As I drove back down the street, I looked for more landmarks as I dredged up visions from my childhood. I saw the building that at one time housed the “pool hall” where many spirited games were played on Saturday afternoon. I looked for the theatre where we watched movies when they finally made it to our town.
Tears clouded my vision to see the hometown of my childhood deserted and lonely. Not one person was to be seen.
As I drove back past Cooper’s store a car pulled up to the stop sign and seemed to stop in surprise that another vehicle was on the street. I saw an older lady in a big old-fashioned car. What did she think of me, the woman in a red Malibu cruising the main drag? She probably thought I was some crazy tourist who had made a wrong turn and was lost.
Maybe I was a little lost. I know my hometown is gone and now lives only in memories and faded photographs.
copyright (c) June 2010 L.S. Fisher