INSIDER COLUMN: Thanksgiving, Memories and the Future

While some folks this holiday season are all spun up over what the evil Europeans did to the native Americans upon arrival in what would become this country, I prefer to take just a moment and not be wrapped up in the issue or cause of the moment. Oh, it’s not that there isn’t plenty be spun up about if we want to look for it, but why? It’s going to fall in our laps eventually anyway.

So, instead, while I sit in my sister’s kitchen on the first full day of vacation, I’ll take just a minute and contemplate things to remember when the world spins craziness around us. That starts with good parents and an upbringing that, while not sheltered, was certainly protected.

It was a small town which at the time was about a 45 minute drive to West Virginia’s capital city, Charleston. Clendenin was pretty much Mayberry. A place where everyone knew everyone else and you developed friendships that last a lifetime. Cliche? Not at all- I am having dinner tomorrow evening with as many of those friends as can make it. It will be between 6 and 20 of us getting together to say hello, share a meal and catch up. It’s a treasured feature of every trip to West Virginia.

It was a town where most folks were at church every Sunday morning, and many made Sunday and Wednesday nights as well. It was an upbringing where, as a rookie policeman, I had culture shock in my home town. There were people who did things I never dreamed had happened where I grew up. As I look back on it, it’s an indicator of just how fortunate I was.

Schools were good. So were summers. While these friends and I spent our school days together year in and year out, those summers were mostly spent at the town swimming pool. It was an education in its own way. For several of us the pool provided our first jobs as lifeguards.

There was band, chorus, football, baseball, basketball and track. There were the Jr. High and Sr. High plays. There were Independence Day celebrations and community reunions. There were annual trips to Charleston for school clothes and then Christmas shopping. Both had their joys. Those breakfasts at the Quarrier Diner with mom and dad were special.

Walking those city streets, the sights, the smells, the wind and snow, the department stores and the five and dimes...they all made for memories of a lifetime.

I go back every Thanksgiving or Christmas and as we drive around the memories come flooding back. Dad’s been gone a number of years. Mom and my siblings are still there, where we all grew up.

That capital city changed and it’s changed a lot. Those busy streets had given way to shopping malls of the 80’s and now, downtown is being revitalized as a different kind of place to go. Specialty restaurants, bakeries and other shops are finding their place. There is a future, even if it isn’t the same as it used to be, it will make the memories of another generation.

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