Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Once upon a Time


My trip "North" was all about going to a wedding for one of my cousin's sons. Well the second reason I was compelled to go was to meet up with my cousins that I had not seen in 42 years. That is right, 42 years we'd been apart.

It had been ages since I'd been back to this part of the country.  I'd made a quick trip in 2000 when my Grandmother had passed away.
Before that?

Well it gets complicated a bit and I am not going to go into all of that.

But the last time I'd set foot on the place photographed above was 1980.  I'd taken my first born son to see his great grandmother who was living with my Aunt.

This was my Aunt and Uncle's place. This was a gathering place for the cousins. We usually only saw my cousins in the summer and we had to go back to the Chicago suburbs for the school year.
To me leaving this area at the end of each summer always brought me heartache.

I would sit in the back seat as a child and think of all the reasons I should be allowed to just stay with all my cousins. I didn't like the 'city'. I always longed for the end of the school year and the long trip north each summer.

Sunday morning I left my cousin Sharon's place. We'd had such a great time visit.  The boys, Aaron and John had asked if I'd gone past their mom's place.  I hadn't and wasn't sure I would.
But just north of Luck, I turned down the road I thought I recognized.


I recognized the train bridge that we used to go under. As a kid I can recall my Grandfather sitting in the the front seat and hollering out "Duck!" as we passed underneath.
His ball cap would flip off and land in the back seat. He'd exclaim, "I didn't duck in time!"
It would never fail and we would always laugh.

When I got close to the Larson place. I slowed down. The roads were no longer gravel like they used to be. I pulled over and tried to peer up the driveway.
The large hill behind the house was now grown up in magnificent pine trees.


The urge to pull in and wander around was very strong. However I knew that the boys had a tenant and I couldn't see myself just pulling in on a Sunday morning and saying..."Hey I used to play here as a kid."

Memories however did flood over me in huge waves. It was like seeing a movie reel in my mind. Here is where I learned to shoot .BB guns, .22's, slingshots, we climbed trees, rode horses, fell off from the pony called Thunder, did garden work,...and spent countless hours doing kid stuff. I wanted to see if the 'Tarzan Rope' was still there.
In my mind I could hear the laughter and snippets of words just beyond my reach. I could hear our mothers calling to us. I could remember the guinea hens and the chickens, the swamp muck, frogs, snakes, and our hands getting sticky from climbing pine trees with sap.
There were nights were we would try and watch TV with our Uncle and we watched static.

As cousins we plotted out our lives and dreams.
And each summer I'd loath returning to the suburbs and school.

This was one of the places that shaped my love for the outdoors and adventure. My other Aunt and Uncle had a farm which played another part in my love of the outdoors.

But both my Uncle Lyle and now Aunt Myrtle were gone. But the memories of them and our childhood still lingered now even stronger than it had in a very long time.

I felt such strong raw emotion as I peered at the pond and the barn off in the distance.

I longed to relive just for a few moments those days long ago ... and Once Upon a Time.


5 comments:

Older and wiser said...

Awesome picture, Val, and a wonderful story. And look at you now, livin' the dream!

Lauren Tracey said...

Love this post! Made me tear up a bit and that is pretty rare for me. Childhood is an amazing thing especially when kids can be free and really explore. I am so glad you decided to take the trip to the place that had such a huge influence on making you an amazing grown-up! Revisiting isn't always easy. Way to be courageous.

Lori Skoog said...

Bittersweet.....

thughumper said...

Wonderful memories, your a very lucky person to have grown up in such a special place. I am lucky to have had a childhood living on a small farm, our cousins came in the summer too!

Monica Larson said...

I'm glad to know that you did make it to Myrtle's after all. Thank you so much for coming to the wedding - it made it even more special. .