i A Time and a Place...: You Can Never Go Back...

Monday, November 03, 2008

You Can Never Go Back...

Whilst once again perusing my Journal, I came across this short piece I wrote in my blog in 2005. It struck a chord and I decided to re-post it.

*Some thoughts on March 5, 2005

You can never go back.

I drove down to Modesto last week to visit some relatives. After a nice visit, I began to think about the place where I grew up. It is on the east side of Modesto, in the Airport District, on South Conejo Avenue, a street that goes down to the Legion Park which runs along the Tuolumne River for quite a ways.

I grew up in a one room shack until I was nine or ten years old. Then my Mom and Step-Dad built a bigger house. The bigger house was nicer and roomier and my memories are about both houses.

When we lived on Conejo, my Mother planted a small tree. It was some kind of Cedar, I think, and was about two feet tall when she planted it. It eventually grew to around 60 or 70 feet tall and was huge.
Now the house is gone and an apartment building is in its place.

Across the street that is just before my house, Bonnie Brae, is a rock house where the Schmidts lived. Mrs. Schmidts' Mother lived in a house in the back. Her last name was the same as mine.

Down Bonnie Brae lived the twins, a girl and a boy, Sissy and Sonny, the first kids I met when I came to the Airport District.

Next door to us was the Carpenters' house. The old man built a really nice house and put a chain link fence around it to keep the boys away from his two daughters. It worked for a while.

The houses that were there when I moved there in 1943 are still there for the most part. They're old and decrepit but still livable. It's hard to believe that so little changed in 61 years.

Hillside Drive turned right off Conejo and the lanes were separated by a row of palm trees. Now the lower street is gone. The county bought it and cleared all the houses out. As I drove down the street I almost felt an animosity toward the county for tearing down all those shacks, the homes of my friends, most of them long since gone.

Driving along the streets of the neighborhood, I again felt the same feelings I did in 1945. Each house was a familiar place to me and I found myself looking for someone I knew. Maybe I will stop at a house and knock on the door and ask if Junior Greens' family still lives there. Junior was the first soldier from the Airport District to be killed in the Korean War. Everybody cried about it and everyone went to his funeral. But I didn't stop.

Everybody cried when President Roosevelt died in 1945. We were sitting outside under an apricot tree when the news came over the radio.I was only nine years old but even my bottom lip quivered a bit.

I drove slowly by a house on Connie Way where a guy I grew up with lived. I stopped for a second to look at the place and a Mexican man came out the door and watched me. I smiled and nodded and drove away.

I'd like to say it was nice to go back to the old neighborhood but that wouldn't be accurate. I have to say, it was nice to visit the old place. I saw my old street and I saw all the familiar houses but most of them were only familiar on the outside. I know most of the people inside are new to the neighborhood; probably only been there for 20 or 30 years.

I took many of the old feelings away with me when I left South Conejo Ave. As strange as it might sound for some people, people who didn't grow up in Little Okie, the Airport District, you can visit there and you can see and hear and feel, even smell familiar things; you can visit but you can never really go back.*



Blogger tweetey30 said...

CA I know that feeling everytime I go home to visit my parents. I will walk or ride down a street and realize that nothing is the same. My grandmother is gone and my great grandmother nad t here is some one different living in there homes now... And other homes I have lived in also work the same way. It just makes you wonder. Sometimes I would love to stop and ask if I could go through the houses I have lived in but you know you cant.. Its not proper and all..

12:45 PM  
Blogger CA said...

Donna and I went to Lewiston, Idaho several years ago and drove by a house we owned in 1975. It looked a lot smaller than it did when we lived there. We knocked on the door and a man answered. I told him we had lived there and asked if we could take a look at the inside,-just for old times sake. He let us look into the living room. It sure looked different than when we owned it!

5:32 PM  

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