Thursday, July 26, 2007

Who says you can't go home again? Me

Before we get to the headlined essay, I have two things on which I'm working and want to alert you faithful readers that they are coming.

The first has to do with the New Haven mayor's identity card initiative.

I happened to be doing some bank business yesterday at a branch of one of the many big banks in the area and asked the officer to whom I was talking about how his bank is gearing up for illegal residents, clutching their newly minted New Haven identity cards, who may want to open savings and checking accounts.

He said his bank wouldn't accept them because "they aren't real." According to this person, whom I won't name because the bank official wasn't aware that his comment would be used in a story, every bank has a list of approved identification for doing business at the bank. The New Haven card isn't on it, he said.

He said he didn't know of any large bank that would accept them. I'm going to check this out and get back to you all with that.

Secondly, you all remember the sad incidents at East Haven cemeteries last spring.
I've heard that due to a local businessman and the local electric utility, lights and new signs are about to go up at the cemeteries. When I get all the details, I'll be thrilled to pass them on.

Page 2

Thomas Wolfe said "You can't go home again."

Ain't it the truth?

I had to transact some business in Moodus, a section of the pretty Connecticut River town of East Haddam today (July 26, 2007), so it gave me a chance to visit my first real post-marriage home.

A couple of years after my wife and I wed, we moved to a family cottage in Moodus, where we lived for the better part of seven years, had our first two children and became adults.

Our place was an A-frame on a country lane in a private beach association, less than a five-minute walk from a lovely lake. The house had a porch fully a third the length of the house, a fully glass front, dark brown wooden sides, small windows and a crawl basement. Because of well and septic tank requirements, the house clung to the left-hand quarter of the lot, which comprised a block across which any six- year-old could throw a ball.

I was a couple of miles away, so I had to drive over and see what had become of the house my late father and I helped build and my wife and I finished. There were many great memories, such as the laying of the rubber pipe hundreds of feet down a hole less than six inches across, helped only by a plumber who had had a few too many. I don't think I've laughed as hard since.

We lived in bucolic splendor, with one child coming less than two years after we moved in and the second three years later. We learned many lessons, most from Steven and Ann Sulavik, our neighbors across the street, both of whom have long since died. They were decades older than us, but full of solutions to problems such as water in the crawl space, how to grow a garden in a shaded lot and how to catch dinner in the lake with a fishing pole and 30-minutes time.

I mention their names only because Steve was a caretaker at Yale for many years and some may remember him.

Today, most of those memories receeded. The ramshackle houses of this summer colony have been replaced by real homes, many quite large. The lumber yard where one could take what one needed on weekends when it was closed and settle up Monday was replaced by a fuel-oil dealership. The pharmacy and pizza place in Moodus center are still there, but McMansions have replaced many of the humble dwellings along the country roads.

I walked around the beach (I still own a small lot in the association, so it was even legal for me to park by the beach) and over to the boat launch area.

There if found John boat (a square bowed rowboat) that looked just like the one I left nearly 29 years ago. But the families seemed much more affluent than the factory workers and other lower-middle class people who scrimped and saved to buy or build their summer places. New and newer cars and trucks inhabited the driveways where older cars and out-and-out wrecks had haunched down before.

My old house looked happy. The side door had been moved and the porch screened in, playgear populated the lawn (something I was never able to get to grow), so the house still sheltered a growing family.

But I was sad as I left. There were some for-sale signs on lots and affluent houses in the area.

I didn't take any of it down. Like Wolfe, I know you can't go home again. But unlike Wolfe, I know that home really is where the heart is, and for me, that was transferred to New Haven many years ago.

Until next time...

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