Saturday, August 1, 2009

Family Thoughts and Wedding

As the summer winds down for me (school begins for teachers in less than three weeks), I am feeling rested, revived, and ready to begin my tenth year as an elementary school teacher. After the coming week I’m sure I’ll even feel rejuvenated (Vacation Bible School begins tomorrow)!
Tim and Esther's Wedding 2009 2009-07-17 045
In mid-July my significant other and I headed for the northern states. For me the trip was more than going to my nephew’s wedding.

Mr and Mrs Moore                                     

Tim and Ester
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My mother and son would be there, my sister, her children and grandchildren, many of us traveling from various parts of the country. Then there were my aunts and uncles, my cousins… I’d be seeing family members I hadn’t seen in at least ten years.
Joy and Tim

My sister, mother of the groom. I know she is so very proud of her children, all five of them, their spouses, and her grandchildren. This was her night as well.

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Cousins… the next generation in our family. All wonderful ‘kids’… this wedding was a grand opportunity for bringing them all together, to celebrate the marriage but also to celebrate Life!
These are just a few: Vi, TJ, Steven, Tim, Tom, TC, Joey, Tom. I love these guys (and girls)!
Aunt Vickie and Uncle JoeMy Aunt Vickie and Uncle Joe warmly welcomed us into their home for seven days. When we finally had to leave to come home, I told myself I wasn’t going to let so much time pass between visits this time. They reminded us many times that we are family and they’d love for us to visit more often. I realized how much like my aunt I am. That’s another blog entry! For now, a great big thank you and I love you to these two loving and generous people!

While in Connecticut, it seemed practical to drive another three hours north to visit one of my childhood homes in New Hampshire.  Before we made the journey, I Google searched the area, hoping to find a map that could take me back to my home. Yet, I was unable to recall any street names. Even my mother couldn’t remember the street we lived on 48 years ago. In my mind, I knew that if I could find the school or the church I attended, I could ‘walk’ myself back to my home. I have a very good memory!

In the end, my husband and I just drove there, with a state map in hand. He’d never been to New Hampshire in his life. This trip was all about me and finding my ‘roots’. He was my traveling companion. We’d been on a similar trip to his childhood home in Virginia a few years ago, and now it was my turn.

After checking into a motel room in Manchester, I talked to the receptionist there about the purpose of my visit. I told her of my memories living in “the projects”. I couldn’t remember more than that. She frowned… said that the projects were Ghetto now.

However, standing a few feet away, a woman who also worked at the motel overheard our conversation. When she heard the words ‘the projects’ she joined in the conversation. “You mean the Kimball Street Projects?” she asked. When she spoke the street name, it all came back to me.
She smiled and said she knew the place. The expressions on her face as she spoke about the projects confirmed my own fond memories. She told us how to find the place. I was grateful for her helpful insight.

Soon after, we were driving through the city streets. With only the memories to guide me and the directions the woman gave us, we neared my childhood neighborhood. I began to recognize the general layout of the streets, the houses, the ‘feel’ of the area. I knew we were near my home place. Even before the first building came into view, I said to Steve, “That house there… there used to be a store there. A little store where we walked to, to buy milk or eggs, or candy. But the store is gone!”
We drove on, and it was like reliving the dreams and memories all over again. Just as I remembered. Appearing only a little older, with some minor differences, the neighborhood looked nearly the same. Brick buildings, each with twelve apartments. Expansive back yards, playgrounds nearby. Family oriented. Walking distance from the school and the churches we attended.

We drove around the neighborhood. The lawns mowed, children riding399 Kimball Street, Manchester NH their bikes or running to their friends’ apartment. I asked my husband to stop the car so I could take a picture of my ‘home’. I was eight or nine years old when we first lived there. All my memories of living in the Kimball Street projects are good ones.

In 1961, I didn’t understand low income housing. I didn’t recognize that we had less opportunities than other children… probably because all the kids I knew there lived in the same area, we went to school together, and church together. But we learned within our friendships, we played outside every day... kickball, hide and seek, jump rope, marbles, and tag. We cut through the woods to get to the swimming pool each summer, even though our parents told us to walk along the street sidewalk. We picked blueberries in the summer, built snow forts and ice rinks in the winter. We suffered the long hot summers when the evening air was thick and still, with no fan nor air conditioning to relieve the heat. I didn’t even know what air conditioning was back then. Did anyone? We walked to school every day, even when bussing first began. The idea of riding a bus to school seemed so alien to us… school was only a mile away. It was a great childhood.

It didn’t seem like the ghetto when I lived there those two or three years, and it didn’t look like a ghetto in July 2009 when we visited there. Perhaps it is because I’m getting older that thoughts to past days and places come to mind. I’ve been wanting to travel ‘back home’ for the past few years. I just wanted to check it out, to see if what I remembered was what actually was. For the most part, it was.

It was good to ‘go home.’
And it is great to be home.