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 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 four 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 me giggling a greeting to them. “We loved it here…maybe you will too!”


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