“Towns change; they grow or diminish, but hometowns remain as we left them.”

Yesterday was a banner day. The heat and humidity disappeared, and it was chilly. I even closed windows. I got my dump sticker and had my car inspected. I even bought a few groceries. I felt accomplished.

The morning is lovely. The sun is shining and glinting through the oak leaves. The temperature is only 65˚. The high will be 68˚. The house is cold even though the windows are shut. The dogs were in the yard so long I went to check. They were chasing each other. When they saw me on the deck, they ran to me jumping. Henry was smiling. He has a nice smile.

When I was a kid, I loved riding my bike to school. I used to raise my arms in the air going down the hill where I lived. The bike rack at school was under trees. It was wooden and painted green. My bike didn’t have a lock, but it had a license plate from the police who registered our bikes and gave us the plates. The licenses were green and were long so they could fit on the back fenders. They even had Stoneham, my town, in white down the sides of the plates. They looked official.

My town had two golf courses. I used to ride my bike to both of them to hunt for errant golf balls. Sometimes I’d find some by the road and even across the street from the course. I’d put them in my bike basket, and they’d jump out at the bumps. I’d get off to get them and wish my basket had a cover.

My town library was built with money from Andrew Carnegie. I remember reading about it on a plaque in the foyer between the inside and outside doors. I only noticed it because it was raining, and I was keeping watch by the door for my father to come and get me. I was surprised.

The square used to have a spa. My aunt would sometimes take me there on Sunday after church. The inside was mostly wooden. It had a soda fountain and tall booths. I remember a sign on the wall for a lime rickey. I had never heard of a lime rickey. I hadn’t even ever seen a lime. My aunt met her friends there. I always felt a bit grown up among them as the Spa wasn’t a kid my age place. I remember it used to be near the movie theater, maybe even beside the door to the bowling alley.

O’Grady’s diner was just below the square. It is one of the places I miss the most. I remember going there with my father. He would give me a dime for the jukebox. Sometimes we sat on stools while other times in a booth. Every time we went my father met somebody he knew, townies. When I was in high school, my friends and I would sometimes go there after drill. We’d get a brownie, ice cream and fudge sauce.

When I was in Russia, at every museum we had to wear foot covers, like the ones police wear at crime scenes. I figured we were really cleaning floors. With two dogs running up and down the hall, there are clumps of fur. I clean them every time I go to the kitchen. I’m thinking of buying a few foot covers to hand to my guests and directing them to through the hall. I figure foot covers are a bit less conspicuous than a vacuum or a broom.

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10 Comments on ““Towns change; they grow or diminish, but hometowns remain as we left them.””

  1. Les Says:

    Yes, I agree with your blog about Hometowns not changing. They seem to stay the same as they were when you left. My Hometown of Hamburg, PA is one of them. It has pretty much remained the same as it was when I was growing up there. The streets, buildings, sidewalks, and places that I used to play in are all still there. However, there were a number of business there are are no longer. They have been torn down leaving a empty space where they once were. When I go up to Hamburg, it always reminds me of the day’s I used to be there. Places that I rode my bicycle, played in the ole’ canal, went swimming, etc. are still there. It never stops amazing me how much it has not changed. Wish I could go back to those days. Noticed that you used to live in Russia? Interested on what that was like. Les

    • katry Says:

      Hi Les,
      My uptown, the square, has also had several stores gone. The shoe factory, for which my town was famous, is now filled with luxury condos. The store which sold children’s clothes is now an Indian restaurant. The one place which is still there, the place where I spent so much tome, is the movie theater. It is now a theater which presents plays.

      The swamp where I skated is gone, replaced by elderly housing. That one made me sad as I loved the swamp in all seasons.

      My sister still lives in my old town, two streets away from where my parents lived, but they moved into that house when I was in Africa. I never lived there, but it was where I always visited them.

      I didn’t live in Russia but I did live in Ghana. I hope that’s as interesting. I did visit Russia and that a trip!!

  2. Bob Says:

    Hi Kat,

    Last night my daughter and I watched the Lin-Manual Miranda movie, “The Heights”. It’s about the neighborhood where he grew up on the upper west side of Manhattan called, Washington Heights. It’s very good musical and it’s on HBO this month before being released to theaters.

    Your post today made me think of my old neighborhood in Jamaica Queens. New York City is really a conglomeration of individual ethnic neighborhoods. My old neighborhood was mostly made up of Jewish and Italian second generation Americans. Many New Yorkers rarely venture too far from their local area. A few years ago I was giving training to a customer on Long Island and I went back to the old neighborhood before flying back home.

    I was surprised that not much had changed along my street. The houses looked exactly the same as when I was 18. The business street nearby, Union Ternpike also looked very similar. The local small supermarket, Key Foods was gone as well as the Candy Store/newsstand/soda fountain emporium on the corner. My old high school also looked exactly the same, but recently has been closed by the board of education due to lack of students. They can’t tear down the building because it’s some kind of a state landmark.

    The main shopping area, Jamaica Avenue, is completely different. The city tore down the elevated train tracks which has let the sunlight onto the street and the stores below giving a festive appearance. But, all of the stores had completely changed over to catering to Spanish Caribbean customers. The Gertz department store was gone as well as the movie theater. The music blaring from speakers at the entrances to stores, the merchandise and the street food being offered was Caribbean. No one on the crowded sidewalk were speaking English. I thought I had been transported to Santo Domingo. 🙂

    Partly sunny skies and a high of 92° this afternoon. Summer has arrived.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Bob,
      I have only seen a few clips from this movie, but nw that I have a review I’ll give it a look.

      Stoneham, my old town, was pretty much white, Italian and Irish. There were two funeral parlors right next to each other. One was the Catholic funeral home by custom and the other was for everyone else. I don’t think there were any Black families there when I was a kid.

      My high school was in a town a couple of towns over. It was a Catholic high school. Many of my eighth grade classmates also decided to go there. We had to take entrance exams. I remember waiting and hoping I got into my favorite choice. I did.

      My old house also still looks the same. Every now and then when I visit my sister I drive by the neighborhood.

      I would have loved having ethnic neighborhoods, places to learn new customs and eat strange food. The closest we came when I was a kid was the Italian delis. Now there are Indian restaurants, Thai restaurants and even Asian Fusion.

      Today never got warmer than 66˚. Right now it is chilly. I put on a sweatshirt.

  3. Christer. Says:

    We’ve had a really nice weather here again and I could hear the rain falling a minute ago, I liked it! Not often You see me write that I liked rain 🙂 🙂

    The problem with puppy ads are that they either want to get rid of the puppies right now or well in to my vacation. If one asks them if one can get the puppy when the vacation starts they become silent 🙂 🙂 Puppies ar adorable but it sure is nice when they finally leave and waiting four more weeks isn’t something many wants to do.

    Have a great day!

    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Christer,
      The breeder for my first two boxers was local so I got to see them as they grew old enough for me. Nala was a huge surprise, a wonderful surprise.

      We need rain. It has been a long while. Now, though, the weather is perfect and will be for the next few days.

      Have a wonderful day.

  4. Birgit Says:

    I listened to a lovely frog concert today 🙂 We just went to the nearby castle park in the evening sun to watch the young nile geese grow and listen to the croaking frogs. There’s not really a castle in the park, just a ruin of an old manor house that didn’t survive the war and also ruins of an old chapel that broke down decades earlier. The park with old trees and a small pond is quite nice and an easy to reach destination by bike.

    • katry Says:

      Birgit,
      I love hearing the frogs. There is a tiny pond at the end of the street. The croakers start when it is warmer. I sit outside on the deck and love the night sounds.

      I don’t think there are ruins around here despite it being one of the oldest areas in the country. Critters are all over the place. My yard has rabbits and the turkeys live close. I used to see coyotes. I admit, though, I love the croakers.

  5. Rowen Says:

    I remember once going to a house museum in Vancouver, BC where they had a motorized dingus with brushes that removed dust and grit from the soles of your shoes. In a museum and garden of Japanese art in Florida, I think, I was given paper slippers and was asked to remove my shoes.

    • katry Says:

      Rowen,
      I figure it is a clever way to keep the floors clean. The floors in the museum were shiny and lovely.


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