Sunday, June 3, 2012

Down Memory Lane

I took a 12-hour trip to Shreveport yesterday. Left home at 10:00 am, got to S'port at 1:00 pm (thanks to 75 MPH speed limit on most of I-49).  Had a very nice lunch with my sister, her boyfriend, and dog Milo. Thanks, Sunni!  My plan was to zip out and buy them a nice lunch somewhere but Sunni informs me that she does not "zip" on Saturdays. OK, no zipping.

My purpose in going to Shreveport was to attend a memorial service for my elementary school and college friend Terri's mom. I hadn't seen Terri in about 30 years, had caught up on Facebook the last couple of years. It was a lovely service, and great to see Terri's family in person after all this time. She had posted pics of her granddaughters on Facebook, and I had the pleasure of cuddling the youngest one for a bit. Nothing like those baby toes!!  Terri hadn't changed from the college years. It was an instant trip on the wayback machine.

Since I was traveling alone with no one but myself to please, I decided to do a drive-by of my childhood homes in Shreveport. While I was in the neighborhood, I also did drive-bys of some of my friends' homes in Shreve Island, sort of as a memory test to see if I still knew where they were. I had visited these places mostly on bicycle; there was a time when I knew every crack in the streets in that part of Shreveport. In my Prius, I couldn't feel the hot wind in my hair, but I found myself leaning in the curves like you do on a bicycle, and I had the feeling that I was 15, on the bicycle again. I went by the place where my friend Ann's sister Judy fell off her bike, broke her arm and jaw. I drove by Ann's old house, Janet's old houses, my childhood homes.  The places were mostly the same, with a few changes in landscaping. The Longleaf house was light gray with dark blue shutters, same trees, though they had pruned the azaleas to a civilized level. We had let them grow 10' tall in front of the living room windows, used them as a privacy screen. I went by the Akard, and Bruce St. houses too. I rode all around the Bruce St. block, the same route I used to bike. There was the Maranto's house, the Love family's house, our old house, minus the redbud trees next to the road. There was my Sunday School teacher's house, the family with the mean boys on the corner who tried to charge a toll for passing their house, Helen Tindall's house, Mrs. McGowen's house, the McClamroch's house, minus all the crabapple trees. Our housekeeper used to send us and her kids to pick the crabapples every summer, then she'd make jars and jars of crabapple jelly. They changed the traffic right of way at the McClamroch's corner. Arthur Circle looked much the same, though they made a driveway and parking where the little kids' playground used to be. Most of the baseball backstops are gone, and there's a new building past the kindergarten building. The live oaks that were just little scrubby things are now large established shade trees. It's been 40 years since I walked across the dewy grass, pounded erasers there. The bike racks are gone. I guess all the kids ride the bus or get dropped off by parents.

There were a series of colorful outdoor metal sculptures on Longleaf. When I first turned into the street from Creswell, I saw several in the Weiner houses' yards. The Weiner family were architects, had started building contemporary styled houses on Longleaf in the 1930s. As I drove down the street, I saw more and more of the colorful abstract structures. I went up the tall hill, turned around in the Hoffmans' driveway, and relived the experience of going down the steep hill on my bike, hitting a speed good enough to make the curve and coast halfway up the longer hill at the other end of the street.

I remember how the houses and streets seemed further apart when I was on my bike, and the effort it took to bike up the hill on Oneonta vs. the hill on Unadilla. The place in the road on Creswell that would pop your bike up, let you coast all the way down to Longleaf at a good speed. The aggravation if a car coming prevented the effortless coasting left turn onto Longleaf, make you brake instead, then pedal to muscle burn to get up the hill.

After making my rounds, I headed out of town about 7pm, got to Lafayette at 10pm. Seemed like I packed a lot of experiences into just one day.

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