Friday, March 19, 2021

Nostalgia Isn't What It Used To Be

I had volunteer work this morning which involves getting up very early. But when I got up, it had been cancelled. So there I was at 5:30am, sitting in the dark but ready to be hopping into the truck and driving for an hour. I had actually been thinking once or twice over the last few days about driving up to see some place I had not visited for a while. No surprise there, I think such thoughts of visiting old places many times in a year. I don't often do anything about them.

However, I am almost 68, and if you do something very occasionally over 68 years it eventually adds up.  Particularly since the boys have grown, I have had the freedom to be a bit impulsive, taking an extra thirty minutes to drive home by a different route, or even taking a couple of hours to drive out to a good view or an old diner. So there's not really anywhere to go. I considered all the directions of the compass one by one, and each has something worth visiting for nostalgic reasons. So worth visiting, in fact, that I have already done it a few times. I did miss my chance at Cow Island on Winnipesaukee, where my parents had a cottage from 1975-1985. I would like to see the place again and I don't have a boat, so my best shot would be to walk across from Fox Point in winter.  I don't trust the ice at present.

Even at that, the place is likely unrecognisable at this point. It was smallish at the time, but it is very desirable real estate now, and has likely been improved and added to several times. I might not even be able to pick it out among its neighbors.  The nostalgia part of Cow Island is no longer attainable, though, as it was the whole process of retrieving and opening up the boat, packing the luggage into it, and heading across the water for the last leg of the trip, then opening the cabin.  Even that was rare, as my stepfather was often there already and would come to pick us up. So maybe next winter, but maybe, when the day comes I will say "Why bother?  What is there to see, really?"

The houses I have lived in and the schools and churches I went to are all in a 90 minute radius, except for college and the Western New England addresses I lived at before I was 6.  I have even been to those a couple of times over the years. I am like Gollum, who thought there would be great secrets in the many tunnels under the mountain but soon exhausted them all.  To the West is Pilgrim Pines, but I went there in winter with the granddaughters just a few years ago, and we will be going soon enough in summer. Northwest is Bradford, Lake Massasecum and another lake house, but I have been by many times as an adult. North, then Northeast, then around the compass, places everywhere. But I've already been.



james said...

I should probably get a list of all the addresses I've lived at and see what they look like now. Some I know suffered hurricanes, war, and/or redevelopment. Everything wears out--I don't look the same anymore either.

Sponge-headed ScienceMan said...

"If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there."

Sponge-headed ScienceMan said...

Actually I can fully relate to your morning musing AVI. I lived a number of places growing up - SE Mass, Shenandoah Valley, near Villanova College, and in central NJ before by family returned to Mass when I was finishing up Jr High. In years past I have revisited all of my former residences and enjoyed the nostalgia very much. But of course my younger family members enjoyed those trips much less, and had to humor old Dad. At this age I wouldn't mind seeing some of these old haunts again - but I don't need to.

Sam L. said...

I bought my first house in '75. Second was in '78, just before I got married (it was behind the first house). Third house in '80. Fourth was a rental, and fifth was in base housing. Sixth I'd bought and rented out, and moved there in '86. I'm in
#7 now (new wife's dream house.)

RichardJohnson said...

The place my parents rented until they bought their house when I was 3 years old, burned down in the 1970s. As they took many slides of our stay there, the house remained in my memory. Through the decades, during visits back to my hometown I'd drive by the place where the house used to be. In my most recent visit several years ago, I drove down the road but couldn't locate where the house used to be. Memories fade.

Mike Guenther said...

It's not the same, but when I want to look at the old homes I lived in as a kid, I get on google earth, type in the address and I can get a view of the places as they are now. Both houses were in San Diego, CA. The first house, which is still there, we had to move because of imminent domain so they could build the 805 freeway. We were told the right of way was going to take half the property.

Slide over to the corner of Home Ave and Spillman drive, where the little league fields used to be. Some kind of professional development is on that spot now. Across the street was the 7/11 on one end of the building and our neighbor's bar, The Gateway Inn, all gone now, replaced with something else.

Our second home, before we moved to WNC, was below a couple of schools separated by a 10' chain link fence, on one side, grass and pavement in the play areas, for the special needs and mentally handicapped kids and on the other, an elementary school with the ubiquitous sand and gravel play area. Now the schools have been combined together and the house we lived in, has bars on the windows and the Olive tree in the front yard is gone as is the Fig Tree in the back yard.

I wouldn't mind going back and visiting Balboa Park for the museums and the zoo, but really have no care to look at the old homes.

Donna B. said...

This post prompted me to look up the first address I remember from childhood. It is the most interesting house I ever lived in. It was built in 1912 and we moved there in late 1959 or early 1960. It had a coal-fired furnace in the basement with the chute for coal deliveries in the driveway which did not connect to the separate garage. That was accessible only from the alley behind the house and had likely not been updated since 1912.

We lived there when zip codes were introduced and area codes started to become important and that's probably why I remember both the address and phone number. We were there when JFK debated Nixon, when JFK was shot, when the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan, and it's where the idyllic part of my childhood took place. I walked home from school for lunch every day and smoked candy cigarettes. I had birthday parties in the backyard and everyone wore frilly party dresses. My Dad built a bomb shelter in the back yard.

Online photos show the house looking very much the same from the street except the lawn has suffered horribly. The screened in porch still had a swing in the same location, the fence is in the same location, the huge autumn leaf generators are the same. The 1912 garage is gone, replaced by a 2 car garage where the bomb shelter was. I'd love to know if they filled that in or did serious reinforcement before building on it.

stevo said...

You remind me of me. Truth is, I just like driving.