We decided to drive rather than fly on our trip from Rockland, Maine to Duck, North Carolina. At my husband’s suggestion we drove through Hartford, Connecticut, my childhood hometown. I wasn’t sure I wanted to see what had become of my home; I was afraid of the changes that might have occurred. I didn’t really want to overlay my happy memories with disappointment and we didn’t really have time to look up any of the old friends. I knew my home address, of course, but didn’t have a clear idea of the layout of the city so we couldn’t find some of the landmarks we looked for.
It was a relief to see my home looking as nice-or nicer-than ever. Generally Hartford seemed rundown and my part of town had become trashed in the intervening 55 years, but my house stood clean and well-cared for and just as I remembered it! As I timidly stepped out of the car to snap a photo from the street, a head popped up in the screened porch inquiringly. So I went up the stairs (I hadn’t planned to approach the house or knock) and asked the man, “Are you the R------?” never dreaming that he would be the same family that had purchased the house from us in 1959. But he said yes, he was the son, now the current owner! And his sister was there visiting on the porch, too, so I not only had the pleasure of seeing the house but had the real joy of hearing about all the kids we both knew from growing up in that house. They were able to tell me what had become of the kids across the street, and those naughty neighbor boys, and the old neighbor lady who gave us candy at Christmastime, and the fancy funeral for the dance teacher down the street. That was so unexpected, that the current owner would be someone who moved in as a kid when I left as a kid and that he and his sister would have played with all my old friends and knew what had become of them. Wonderful!
I Am From
I am from rainy day popcorn and Betty Crocker and Kodak and Winnie the Pooh.
I am from the upstairs bedroom of the house on a hill, from storm windows on the porch and sweet lilies-of-the-valley on the bank.
I am from mountain laurel, daffodils and acorns, from grapevine tendrils and from jumping in fall leaves.
I am from going to the library and from no TV. I am from family reading together at bedtime, from Dr. Doolittle and Mary Poppins dusting the stars.
I am from dungarees and sneakers, from davenports and patent leather.
I am from the Kikendalls and Howatts, the Marshalls and Taylors, from the first cousins and the second cousins and the cousins once- or twice-removed.
I am from road trips and Sunday night drives through downtown after evening meeting, from following fire trucks and search lights and from sharing “Awful-Awfuls” at the Friendly.
I am from having “just a little something” and “The children would like some ice cream”, from making paper chains when we were sick and from Mommy's soothing palm scratches at church.
I am from “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world” and flannel board lessons, from the Gospel Chapel and Sunday School picnics.
I'm from Hartford and Cedar Rapids and Portland, from Broadview Terrace and Fir Dell Drive and Clay Street. I am from 2015 Washington and Alameda Streets.
I am from hamburger soup and brownies with ice cream, from meat-and-potatoes-and vegetable-and-salad dinners, from setting the table and loading the dishwasher and the chores chart.
I'm from bologna at John's Market and counting the train cars at Rocky Neck Beach, from swimming at Barkhampstead Reservoir and walking along New Britain Avenue.
I'm from riding on Dad's handlebars and hide-and-go-seek, from “ally ally oxen free” and looking through the windows at Jane Hart's dance studio.
I am from the Brownies, from FeeFee and Dodo, from Denise and Wendy and the horrible neighbor boys. I am from Mrs. Macris' ribbon candy and Rosemary babysitting and the cleaning lady.
I am from playing 'School' and 'House', from trading cards bought at the Five and Dime, from roller skates with a key and ice skating on the pond. I am from loving my dollies.
I am from a tidy big sister who kept her things nice and from two little brothers who fought. I am from the seat in the car right behind my Dad at the wheel.
I am from nurturing parents and grandparents who taught me their special ways. I am from trips to the zoo and circus and Beaver Park, from airplane rides and train trips to see Grandma and Grandpa.
I am from Grandma's long dining table set for friends and family, young and old, a feast of conversation and food and love. I am from her Singer Sewing Machine.
I am from a committed circle of family and friends, Aunties and Uncles who watched over me. I am from happy days of running through the neighbors' backyards in the summer evenings and coming home when we heard Dad's whistle blow.
I expect that's what going to Heaven will be like, running home at the end of the day.
By Hollace Howatt Chandler
Based loosely on a poem by George Ella Lyon