Thoughts of family and home surge through the mind when the holidays come near. Whether someone is orphaned or from a large family, this truth stands firm. My thoughts move back to my small Indiana hometown of Greencastle.
The old adage that one can never go home again also holds true. The covered bridges that I remember bursting from a snowy landscape are still there, still serving to span the separation between one landmass and another, but they have changed. Oakalla Bridge, circa 1898, was destroyed some years ago and rebuilt. Dunbar Bridge, circa 1880, looks smaller now as things of memory are wont to do.
Bridges such as these will always be kept in use here. They are icons to a different time, a different social order. They also provide an excellent excuse for an annual Covered Bridge Festival in October. Tourist dollars mean an economic boost to the area.
The streams that flowed below those thick timbered floors don’t seem so significant or welcoming any longer. Yet they’ve always been part of my mind’s landscape of home.
The honored of WWI and WWII still dominate the town square, surrounding the courthouse and lawn. The refurbished statuary and memorials proudly call for attention after so many years.
I look at the restored Buzz Bomb, one of the few remaining in existence, and hear my father’s voice, telling me how he was the one who made the propeller on the front end of it. I hear the pride in his tone, that he’d been assigned the privilege of doing the work.
Back in 1960 Vice President Nixon and his wife Pat, circumnavigated the town square on a chilly autumn day while my mother, brother, and I sat in our parked car and waved at them. He was campaigning for the presidency against JFK that year.
The Banner Graphic building, Greencastle’s newspaper of so many years, sits diagonal to the courthouse. The town’s bakery occupied that space until the late sixties. The Banner had been in a different building off the square until it burned in a fire. The old Opera House is gone too, not long after I left high school.
Meeting an old school chum on the square or in a store brings a rush of old memories and a basketful of questions. Catching up on so many years gets reduced to “How have you been?” and “Are you in town for a visit or moving back?” Or, “Have you seen anyone else from our class? We missed you at the last reunion.”
Things change, only to remain the same in our personal histories of the mind. The citizens circulate, some move away, others stay to rear a new generation, and the town remains to greet those who return to visit.
We return to see a different place than we recall, from a different perspective since life changes the person as easily as it does a town. Feelings generated so many years before remain constant, as they must inside the mind, acting in the same capacity as the covered bridge arched support beams. Fresh memories cross over those beams to stretch and sooth earlier recollections, adding depth, perspective, and a chance to begin anew in the place of the past and of the heart.
I hope everyone has a memorable holiday season this year and that your new year will feature personal adventures of your own making as well as those pleasant surprises that come to us all in time.