On Differing With Ella Winter

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July 3-7, 2019, Saugus, MA-

The fine North Carolina author, Thomas Wolfe, famously used, “You can’t go home again.”as the title of a novel, which he never lived to publish.  His associates took care of that, sometime after his death in 1938, and we have the title as one of the more memorable things with which he is associated.  The quote, though, originated with an Australian writer, Ella Winter, who gave Wolfe permission to use it in his writing.

I’ve been going back to Saugus, continuously, since I left here at age 18.  Service in the Army, college, a quixotic two years getting my bearings in Maine, and then Arizona, South Korea and back to Arizona, all have had a common denominator:  Hometown has never gone away.

There have been changes:  The population has grown, from 25,000 to about 38,000; traffic has increased accordingly; the once lily-white community has opened its doors to people of colour; Hilltop Steak House has given way to Restaurant 110; most of the neighbours have  died or moved away.

There are, though, things which endure:  My mother is still living, quite well; two boyhood friends still live in the neighbourhood-one  in his childhood home; Adams Avenue, the street of my youth, is still within walking distance of both Saugus Center and Cliftondale Square-as well as the West Side’s large shopping mall, Square One; traffic on U.S. Route One can still be daunting at times, though after dealing for so long with traffic in much larger cities, I know not to cringe.

We had the usual family gathering, this time at a niece’s large, beautiful new home, about 1 1/2 hours west of here and dropped in on a nephew and his family, in a town twenty minutes south of Saugus.   These visits are fleeting, but far better than not seeing these gracious, beloved people at all. There was a visit to the aforementioned 110, where I got my fix of fried clams, a boyhood staple.  There were the customary Hallmark movies and binge watching of old episodes of “Blue Bloods”, one of Mom’s favourites.  There was a surprise, when Mom decided to check out a couple of Marvel films, on SyFy.  She had enough, after “Iron Man”, but “Spider Man” was a hit.

I come from large families, on both sides.  There are many cousins, some I haven’t seen in years, and a few aunts and uncles still living.  The group will hopefully get together in late August.  Though I won’t be there, people have to start with what they have available.  I have been able to connect with a cousin in the Midwest, as you know,  and will hopefully make more connections, in future visits.  Gradually, the in-gathering progresses-with social media at least keeping the ties from fraying.

So, not to judge Ella Winter, for the circumstances of her life, but I CAN, and do, go home again. If nothing else, home remains in the heart.  We four, and our extended family, want Mom to keep on, so long as life offers her a measure of blessing.  May she keep the flame, until it’s time to pass the torch on.

NEXT:  Amherst and Its Halls of Learning

 

 

Open-ended

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June 11, 2019-

Back at Home Base, for a couple of days.  I find peace has returned to some parts of my life which had been in upheaval, just before I went up to Bellemont.  A friend who was mildly irritated with me has reached out and it’s all good.  A person who was livid at my very presence, last summer, was gracious and helpful, this evening.  Time does heal wounds, without necessarily having to wound heels.

I had a nice conversation with my next-to-youngest brother, whose birthday is today.  He’s one of the stars in my life- a man who has overcome serious odds to successfully lead a team of Research & Development pros, for a small Boston-area company.

My hometown, so far, is the only solid East Coast venue on my upcoming journey, and it is by far the most important-Mom is there and a couple of childhood friends have been hurting.  In between, there are several friends and family, across the Southwest and South, and a few feelers have gone out-so we’ll see how it plays out.  This year, I’m told, it’s especially crucial to be open-ended and let the road lead.

There will be time, after my New England visit, for Chicago, the Great Plains, Rockies and Great Basin, en route to the other solid venue of the summer, a dear little girl’s stage debut.   The road will lead.

This will be, as things stand now, my last coast-to-coast road trip wholly within the continental U.S.- save a possible run out to Florida, over the Christmas-New Year’s break.  Summer, 2020 will focus on the Pacific Northwest, southeast Alaska, Trans-Canada and back across the northern tier of states.  After that comes retirement, and time with my little family and with friends in other parts of the world.  These, too, are open-ended and the road will lead.