The Where That Is No Longer There

Everything in our life takes place in, well, in a place. It’s the inevitable Where which comes with the When. You have them too, but let me mention one of mine. A Where that is no longer there.

A small white summer cottage at the end of a dusty gravel road off Route 120. Hugging a tiny lake called Lily just south of McHenry Illinois. I know, it’s an unimportant place to bring to your busy attention. And yet you’ll instantly recognize its symbology for your own life, where so many places are likewise no longer there. Somehow, though, their very absence gives them significance.

In the late 1930s, while the Great Depression raged on in cities like our Chicago, this modest corner of the green Midwest countryside became our family’s 4 weeks of escape. Dad was struggling to sell new cars for which no one had the money to buy, but he and my uncles wanted their children to experience something more than the stark urban despair of an unemployed city.

Your own childhood Where’s may have been a trip to the mountains, the seashore, or all right a cottage. Mine let me discover the un-citified splendors of fields of thick green, rows of yellow corn, blue tongues of water lapping white beaches, and what seemed like a thousand birds never before seen or heard in my mornings.

I drove by that fragrant Where last summer to breathe in the memories. The cottage was gone. Of course. Those summers were almost 80 years ago, Jack! But as I drove closer, I saw a crew of workmen. Something new was going up in my lovely empty Where.

“Good,” I thought. If the beat is to go on, every sainted memory deserves a fresh one to take its place. Watching that crew, I thought I could hear my young cousins and I giggling a greeting to them. “We loved it here…maybe you will too!”

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  • I related in my heart and mind Jack ... and memories of distant places close in memory came flooding back to me ... I too have such a place from my childhood ... and as the recall of events tumbled back to me I recall having visited the place on this planet where I experienced my greatest childhood joy ... it was serenely barren - and not in any abstract way ... for the farm and buildings of my fathers and grandfathers labour had been swept away to a stark vista of several miles of open prairie ... and what was once "The Ward's Farm" ... Had become a place that had no name .... Much thanks for stirring my heart this day … much thanks …

  • Oh and what a lovely heart it is, Barrie! Most of the readers here are younger and therefore are busy MAKING their memories. Elders like us can only hope they someday they can ENJOY theirs as much as we seem to do with ours..

  • The "where" is still in your heart and soul and memory. It can always exist there.

    My childhood "where" is not far from where I am now. Not all lots had houses on them ( this was the "prairie") and when the gully along the Grand Trunk tracks flooded we built rafts and floated along like Huck Finn for a block or two. It's a lost world.

  • My "where" is still "there" but is different. I spent a lot of happy times on my grandfather's farm just outside of Davenport. I loved that house and especially the old barn. So many memories. The government bought him out and built a lake and park on that land. The house and the old barn are still there but I'm guessing the pasture is under water. But I still have all those memories. Such happy times.

  • To Richard & Andrea, my fellow nostalgics! Yes, we each have so many special Where's in our lives. Which very often help define those lives....

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