Steve Young Remembers....................... Updated January 18, 2008

Remembering

My home town is in the smack dab middle of the State.  There was a time when everyone traveling north or south had to come through town to reach their destination.  About five thousand souls lived there in 1950 and about
the same number do now. Nothing has changed and everything has.

I visit my home town more often now than I did when I was younger.  No, I don't actually go there, just visit the memory of the places and the faces that time has erased from being.  Memory is a wondrous gift to human kind.

It allows you to breach time and distance.  Memory is a private self guided tour of extinct existence.  Memory is detached and neutral.  You can recall the perfect rose, but not smell the fragrance.  You can behold the feast, yet not taste it.  You can view the injury, but not feel the pain.  You can watch the choir sing, but not hear the music.  You can remember that there was joy or grief, but never experience the same emotion.  You can visualize the events of years as they cascade by, but you can not see them again with
your eyes.  Memory is truthful, but only as the user is honest.

I went back home the other day and stayed a good long while.  There were several people that I really wanted to see and some places I needed to go back to.  When I arrived, my old dog Faithful was sitting on the front porch waiting for me.  Vaughn Monroe was singing Mule Train over the Philco, but I could not hear his voice.  I wanted to sit thee and pet that old dog.  He looked much younger this time.  His red collar was new and the metal buckle was not the least bit rusted.  I know which photograph my memory picked to
reproduce his likeness to me.  It was the picture taken the day I received my first two wheel bike.  Faithful had to run to keep up with me from that day on.

Memory will only allow you to visualize people as you last saw them, not as you first saw them.  You will remember a picture taken at a given time to represent that period of being.  This is an oddity.

Try to remember your mother or father ten or twenty years ago.  Look at their faces in your mind.  You will either see them as you last did or you will remember their countenances as a picture reflects them.  Now try a brother or sister when they were little.  Which photograph is it that you remember?

Faithful was a young dog when I sat down by him on the porch.  I had forgotten about that one curled up toenail until he reached out to shake. He had many more years to be my friend then.

I knew that mother was just inside the house fixing lunch for dad.  The noon whistle was about to blow and he would come walking down the street shortly. I didn't go in.  I just said,"I love you mom", and she said, "I love you too, son".

I stood up and looked at the little house. The lock on the front door could be opened by a skeleton key.  Everyone had a skeleton key.  Faithful didn't follow me down the street as usual.  I guess he knew that I was inside the house eating lunch and he was waiting for his.  The windows were open on each house on Walnut street as I passed by.  No one was upset or bothered much about the heat, because no one knew any difference yet.

I like this street.  I like everyone who lives on this street.  They like
me.  I could stop and knock on any door and find on the other side a friendly, smiling specter.  The great World War II was over.  This may very well have been the happiest time.

There was something very different about these people.  They were a special generation.  They knew very little but economic hardship during the long years of depression.  They were not selfish.  They had faith.  They knew how to work hard.  They enjoyed each other.

I paused a moment in front of each house to renew the bond. I noticed each tree, every little fence or garden and looked up and down the street at each corner.  This is a good place.  As many times as I passed this way before, it was always safe.  I never had to worry.  No one did.

I wanted to walk by my Grandparent's home before it got too late.  I turned left on Williams street and saw their house about two blocks down the way. As I approached, I could see that they were not at home. The wooden boat, trailer, and old car were gone.  Pappy and Grandma were fishing.  They loved to fish more than any folks I ever knew.  They won't be back until dark. They might miss one fish if they leave too soon.

This is a rent house.  Pappy never bought a house until he was sure that Standard Oil would not transfer him again.  It would snow here the next winter.  Icicles would hang all over this front porch.  It would be the first snow that I ever saw.  I didn't get to play in it.  I was sick.  I watched out of this window as the neighborhood children pushed each other on boards and boxes.

It is quite here.  There is not much of anything to make noise.  Oh, a dog barks now and then, a car passes by on occasion, but it is quite here.

It is getting late.  The sun is below the cotton in the field just passed Marshall street.  It will be dark soon.  The man will come by and turn on the few street lights.

Dusk is a wonderful time to walk.  People are finishing up their last chores for the day.  A few lights are coming on.  The locus are buzzing out their songs, high and hidden in the tall pecan trees. The crimson sunset has turned to lavender.  The shadows of the houses and great trees have dissolved into pitch.

I see my little house on Walnut street again.  The lamp by the front window is on.  Dad has walked over to the Masonic Lodge to practice.  He will be back around eight.

About five thousand souls lived in my home town in 1950 and about the same number do now.  Nothing has changed and everything has.

"Good night mom, I love you".

Epilogue

                                                 Written upon the occasion of Dadís death

Darkness has taken Walnut Street.  Nighttime has an aura to itself, its own aroma, and its own texture.  I can see the dull amber lights from within each house going out and now the windows are all black.

I feel a sense of loneliness as I stand a silent vigil in the street.  Night sounds come.  The owlís haunting call from the woods in back of the school, the frogsí raspy refrains down by the bayou, the gentle wind sighing through the dry leaves, combine to produce a sweet and melancholy song for me.

Dad was the last one to get home after his long day.  He was tired.

They are all at home now.  Pappy and Grandmother are back from fishing.  Motherís chores for the day are over.  Dad smiled as he walked through the door.  And now rest.

Have you ever thought about sleep?  I have.

Sleep is Godís gift to renew our strength and regenerate our spirit.  I have often marveled at how short a nightís sleep seems to be.  Once you close your eyes and drift off into deep slumber, you awake again.  It is as though only a second has passed and morning has come.

So, all is well here.  This is a good place.  The moon is just starting to rise and night shadows are stretching their long fingers from dark objects.  It is time for me to leave.

Faithful barks one time as I walk away.  It is peaceful here.  But in just a second, they will all be awake, for sleep does not last.  Iíll be back one day to again renew the bond.  For now, I know that they are all happy and safe at home.