Tuesday, December 11, 2012

the streets of long ago

On a chilly midwestern day, I sit on a bench in my old home town and remember. It is a special treat to be here with my younger sister. We haven't been in this place together since the day we moved away, so many years ago--or was it yesterday--back when we were bubbly teenagers. We park the car and walk. Walk the half block from our house--the house our dad built--to school, except our grade school has morphed into two large homes.
Then we walk to church--a full block--and remember walking our dad home from his church office for lunch. The block seems strangely shorter than we remember. We walk around the block--it happens to be just two days after Halloween, which is a time we remember so much about our neighborhood. Those nights ... tearing up and down the streets with our pillow cases slung over our shoulders, filled with huge (weren't they? or were we just small) candybars and bubblegum. We remember which houses gave the best stuff, where we babysat, where our school friends had lived. Some houses seem totally unchanged by the years, others have been torn down and replaced by huge homes squished on too-small lots. Viewing our charming small town--a bedroom community to Chicago--as adults, we are impressed with what a wonderful place it was to grow up.

Then we walk uptown and have a treat from the bakery which is totally unchanged from when we were kids. We stand on the street trying to figure out which shop had been our beloved "dime store" when a woman stops and points to it. "That's where it was, and that's where Schluter Drug was--remember?" She too had moved away but moved back years later, and was eager to talk about the town we love and how it was when we were kids. We try to figure out if we had been in high school together and I finally ask her how old she is.

We are in town for the 100th anniversary of the church where we grew up, where our dad was the minister for 20 years. It is an amazing experience to see our childhood friends, now looking like older (yes much older) versions of their parents––as we remember their parents. Once again we find ourselves asking each others' ages, trying to figure out how things were when we were kids. For when you are young, age difference is big. So like the friendly woman uptown on the street, we laugh as we realize only at such an event would you ask someone's age or the year they were born.

My older sister lives near there and joins us at the event. An old friend of hers comes up to her and asks, "Weren't we friends? Like really good friends?" My sister agrees, digging deep for the memory. Such funny conversations take place as we gather up and make sense of old memories.

So for a few brief hours, childhood friends and places we remember as clearly as if it were today, become very real again. It is an amazing experience, sort of in the "top ten" of life events. But then, like the Cinderella story, it is time to go back to real life, but going back blessed with new memories of the old memories. It's kind of complex as I process it all. But I'm very grateful for the bringing forth of the old, as a reminder of people, a time of life and a place, that had much to do with making me the person I am today. Yes, that sums it up the best. I came away very grateful.


  1. What a great post. I love reading your childhood memories.

  2. You've shared a lovely and memorable visit this morning. I love going home again. My sisters and I do so every year so the changes are a bit more subtle. I'm always scanning faces to see if I can recognize someone from my past on the street. It's a joyful task.


  3. What a privilege...to have the opportunity to step back into your past for a time, recreating old memories and making new ones. Thank you for sharing this peek.

  4. That was such lovely and insightful writing. I have alternately laughed and wept.

    If my sister and I were to attend such an event, it wouldn't go nearly so well. I'm hoping our condition is only temporary...permanent would be too dreadful to consider. We are reduced to things like, "You remember her. Her mother's cousin was the guy who helped dad get his truck started that day when he drove into the ditch after the ice storm the year that Milly's baby brother was born..." and on it goes. Honestly, we have people in stitches listening to us, yet it is all rather pathetic. ☺

  5. I enjoyed this post Dotsie, a heart warming trip down memory lane with you. I am amazed the bakery is still there, most around here have given up to the bakeries in the big grocery stores.

  6. I love this post sharing your visit to your hometown. Your thoughts are much like mine were when my sister was home this summer and we visited all the familiar spots of our childhood which she hadn't seen for 25 years. I saw things through her eyes in a fresh perspective as I had been to the spots over the years. It was special to see them with her. I'm glad the bakery is still there. And the church. Blessings.

  7. I loved this tour dear Podso, we did this with my bro several years ago in Astoria-Queens, NY..but way before I was blogging, so next time I'm in NY I'll go to our house and the neighborhood too. I loved your house and your wonderful memories, we were so fortunate to have. Big hugs,

  8. What a nice walk down memory lane. I always find it strange to be in my home town, where so much is so very different. I married so young, that I feel that where we live now, is my hometown. We have been here for over 30 years. Your previous post on the dolls sure brought back memories.
    I loved my dolls and clothing, on those tiny little hangers!!!
    xo Kris

  9. What sweet memories to ponder! Looks like a really nice town...Christine

  10. Anonymous10:33 AM

    How wonderful to be able to go back and meet up with old friends, Dotsie!
    The neighborhood that I grew up in has changed so much. My parents' home (which they built) doesn't look anything like it used to as a 2nd story was added on. My best friend's house & her Dad's greenhouses are all gone. I just have to go back via my memory now. :)

  11. How wonderful that you could visit your hometown with your sisters. I visited Chicago area three years ago, I wonder if I was in your little hometown.
    I would love to do that with my sister.
    Hugs, Cindy

  12. It is so much fun going back to the town you grew up in...fortunately my siblings live very close so they have kept in touch with everyone we grew up with...they can tell me names of friends I don't recognize!

  13. Podso,
    I L O V E this post, dear friend!!!
    Yes, one truly can go home, once again!!! I would have loved to have been a ladybug on your shoulder and listen in on your converstations!!!
    "Mr. Ed" took me home a few years back. . .before you and I were blogging friends! Thought you might enjoy reading about
    Coming Home. . .

  14. Such a beautiful coming home written piece. I have really only been home once, as my parents have been gone for years, and I was so determined to find the little one room school house that I was bussed to and I did, and I was soooo happy and happy/sad memories flooded me. Joni

  15. I'm smiling as I read this, nodding my head in agreement. Life goes on, things change, and we have to process the changes at different times and in different ways. This thoughtful, gentle piece is beautifully written. Thank you.

  16. Beautiful post-I enjoyed the trip down memory lane with you!

    Take care,


  17. What a happy anniversary that must have been for this church and it was so nice you honored your father's memory by being there for the celebration! It must have been a nice opportunity to re-visit your childhood neighborhood and meet old friends!

  18. Beautiful! It's how I feel about many of my memories, too.

  19. You have certainly caught/captured the feelings, thoughts, emotions and nostalgia of such an event in your writing this post. But what a blessing to have such a past to look back on and remember!

  20. I love how you said, "new memories of the old memories". There is something very special about revisiting childhood places and events that is heartwarming. I find I have a much greater appreciating for the people, places and things from my past.

    A sweet post :)

  21. How beautifully you captured this memorable visit back home Podso ~ it must have filled you up to the brim. I can tell your father was a strong presence in your life; how wonderful you were able to celebrate his years in ministry.

  22. How beautifully you captured this memorable visit back home Podso ~ it must have filled you up to the brim. I can tell your father was a strong presence in your life; how wonderful you were able to celebrate his years in ministry.

  23. a beautiful trip down memory lane...

  24. What a treasure...a treasure...walking through your heritage. Doesn't God just bless us when we do that and remind us how He has always been there? You captured the feelings well

  25. A blessing indeed...

    and, I love that last photo...


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