The "Where" In Your Life 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 to 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 heard in my days.

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! 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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  • My childhood home is still there, although I was sort of surprised how small it looks now. However, it freaked me that my grade school had been demolished and replaced with one named after a recently dead governor. The same was promised for my high school, but apparently was forestalled by money problems. It also freaked me that a gang crimes unit police car was parked about a block away.

    On the other hand, the grade and one of the high schools my father attended in Chicago are still there (although the second h.s. was replaced, and the grade school is now a charter school).

  • In reply to jack:

    Seems like you too resonate with your former wheres&whens. Frankly I always find it hard to relate to those adults who don't.

  • In reply to Jack Spatafora:

    Yes, although it sometimes creeps me. And like Michael Jackson, who grew up about 5 miles due east of there, I can see why his overbearing father wanted out of there.

  • In reply to jack:

    In my case I grew up on the far westside of Chicago [Austin} which in the 30s,40s,and50s was a Norman Rockwell world. Lot of us would still like to have remained there, but times changed everythig

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