In the country there wasn’t a whole lot to do but it was home and my life. I was rarely ever bored. I’d just step out into my backyard and a wonderful adventure would await me. It was a fantasy world where I played many roles. Hours would pass and the only thing that broke my “reverie” was my mom calling me in to supper.
We’d go for a Sunday drive. Stop somewhere for ice cream or a hamburger. Shop at the local Mercantile that looked like something straight out of “Little House on the Prairie,” where we’d buy wool socks and work boots. There was a drive-in movie theater adjacent to a trailer park. Every summer we had a carnival and a jamboree. There was one famous country band that would come every year and play. I was starry eyed and enthralled by the music, the games and the rides.
Being the baby in the family, my mother was my favorite person in the whole world. She would often surprise me when I’d come home from school, go in my room and find a present on my bed: a brand new football, a baseball mitt, comic books, a toy gun in a holster, stuff from the Five and Dime store.
I remember the little one story hospital which was about 8 miles away in the country of all places and surrounded by farms. I was one of the first babies born there. When I was ten years old I had spent a month in that hospital where I almost died, should have died, but God intervened and a miracle happened. The surgeon spent the entire night in my room the day I was operated on, sitting in the dark. I never saw him. He looked at his hands and said God must have guided him. He wouldn’t take any credit for saving my life.
I remember Dr. Hobbie who had an office in his house. It was old and beautiful. The waiting room was in a tiny hallway just inside the front door with 3 or 4 chairs. He had office hours two nights a week between 6 and 8 PM. You didn’t need an appointment. Just come in off the street and lots of farmers did. He would check your throat with a piece of balloon around his finger. If you needed medication he had a mini pharmacy and would put the pills in a small white packet. He was old and grandfatherly and the whole town loved him. He charged ten dollars and if you couldn’t afford the pills that was okay.
I remember summers at my uncle’s cottage by the lake. It was only a few miles from my home, but it felt like a world away. We fished from the dock and went out in a rowboat. I slept on a cot on the screened in front porch, listened to the birds and looked up at the stars. One day my uncle rented out the cottage to a young man and it caught fire. Burned completely to the ground.
Sadly, my childhood home sits vacant. It is starting to look rundown. The paint is peeling and the garage door is rotting. Trees have been cut and the horse shed in the back had fallen to the ground and all of the debris was cleared away. It’s now a wide open space; not the fantasy land of my childhood. I no longer recognize it. I drive by there sometimes but it elicits no real memories. Maybe because it is empty. Devoid of life. My parents are no longer there raising their children. That chapter has ended and the house seems to know it has been abandoned and has simply surrendered to the decay. My sister, who was given power of attorney during the last few years of my dad’s life, does not want me walking on the property. She gave me money when my dad died and said the house is now hers. I drove by there yesterday and noticed my memory has faded even more. The same way a dream does with the passage of time.