Friday, May 15, 2009

A Graduation Tribute

I have three amazing sons! The youngest son will graduate law school tomorrow. I am overwhelmed with pride and admiration. This child came from a broken home VERY early in his life. As he grew over the ensuring eight years in a single family home he began to test life, daring most things that came his way. The older brothers could issue a dare--they and he knowing full well it would result in negative consequences--and Craig would take it on. He explored and challenged all that was put before him good, bad and indifferent--in earnest! Yet, he was always forthright and paid the consequences for his actions with a shrug of the shoulders. He learned just a bit more each time--as HE turned the tides. He was testing the waters and soaking up the experience like a sponge.

During his high school years he began plowing a path--his path. He pursued diverse routes, excelling in all yet, focused on those that he found most interesting. He was honing his life’s vision and has pursued.

Craig is a man of few words yet, every word has weight--a quiet man--yet, wisely so.

To my son, Craig--kudos!!! You have done well!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Technological Memory Trips

I took a stroll down memory lane this morning--in more ways than one. In that waking moment, that moment just before full awareness, where the conscious mind seems to waltz with the subconscious was the song “500 Miles”. Even as my feet found the floor, the song lingered. I put the coffee on and ventured out onto the deck to water the herb seedlings with 500 Miles running through my head. The humming followed and then--with the rhythm of the water--I burst into song for all of Savannah (well, at least my neighbors) to hear. After the watering task I went straight for the CD player and punched the appropriate keys to find The Kingston Trio and 500 Miles. While the song played it occurred to me ‘I am about 500 miles from my childhood home’.

Via the wonderful world of Facebook, I’ve recently reconnected with several people from my hometown, some that I’ve had no contact with since early childhood and many from my school--Clements High School. I’m certain this activity had much to do with my subconscious waltz. After brushing the teeth, washing the bod’, donning the duds, petting the pup and pouring the coffee, I headed downstairs to Google-Map the distance from here to my childhood home. It was only 498 miles. Ah! I had to make it work. Remembering that mother had always said we lived two miles from the school, I added Clements as my final destination. It is so! It was exactly 500 miles.

When my sons were young, we would pick an extraordinary place to visit (ie. London, England). I would go to the library to get a copy of the city map; to a travel agency to nab brochures; and to encyclopedias for further information. We learned about and talked of the place for a week and then we would sit together on the floor with all of our materials spread out in front of us and take a trip. Using the maps we walked the city streets calling out landmarks as we encounter them, discussing them, what we had learned and the history of the place. Wonderful trips and now great memories.

Today I was able to walk the streets around my childhood home and the Clements community via the Google Maps street view application. Technology is amazing.

I started from my childhood home walking east from our driveway. That was the house my father build while working for Jim Walter Homes. The seafoam green was applied in later years. One of the neighbors that lived across the road supplied the current photos (Thanks, Johnny). The old Smith place, where Tommy and Johnny lived is a bit like most of us-- the same yet, older and looking a little ragged around the edges. The Smith Place (current).  Click for larger image.<br />I paused for a moment at the top of the hill, spanning/looking left across what used to be a cotton field--now a cow pasture--I could see the back of my grandparents place over on Hwy 72. I did that as a child, too. There’s a new house built atop that hill just above the Smith place. My grandfather used to own that land. There was a little brown rental house there that came complete with outhouse. I don’t know that my recall of tenants is chronologically correct yet, I recall the Culkins [sp?], an elderly couple that drove an old green truck, which I loved--them and the truck; the Barnes family, Hazel was in my class; a Nash family, I think Ann was in Felita’s class; and my Uncle John and his bushel basket. Continuing down the hill I passed the house where Nancy Nash lived and just beyond there on the left, passed Debbie Watson’s house. A few houses down (a later addition) is the house Mark & Frankie built (two of my Clements classmates). At the top of that hill, on the right was Mrs. Easter’s house.

As a child I would always stop to admire Mrs. Easter’s beautiful flower garden and before I left she would bring out this wonderful tin containing King Leo soft peppermint sticks and offer one to me. I always took one yet, secretly wanted the tin more than the candy. Just beyond Mrs. Easter’s house, I spied a house I remember but, for the life of me cannot recall the name of the family that lived there. [Anyone?]

Turning left onto Log Cabin Road I saw a multitude of new houses. Reaching the end of that road and Hwy 72, I was happy to see the old Log Cabin grocery still standing, as well as the house across the road--though now looking like forlorn roadside shacks. If my memory serves me correctly that house had a breezeway which I thought was one of the coolest things in the community. [If anyone reading this can confirm that memory, I would greatly appreciate it.] I turned west onto Hwy 72 and checked out the grandparents place. All the hills, embankments and even houses seem much smaller than I remember. I continued west on 72 to Clements and was amazed at all the kiosk-type buildings, structures and growth. I strolled back home via Ezell road, stopping by the cemetery at the end of that road long enough to linger in a few memories.

I went back to the map view and traced the bus route I rode for years. I was really amazed at my recall of the route, who we picked up, where, and the flood of memories about those folks from those years.

If you haven’t experienced the Goggle Map street view application, let me encourage you to do so. You can travel to and see places you’ve never been--without having to make treks to the library or travel agencies--and in a sense, travel back in time. Enjoy your journey.