Where I come from

Revisiting a childhood home can be an emotional experience.  After you get over the difference in scale (not as big as you remember it) you’re transported back in time to relive memories you thought were long gone.  I recently got to visit my childhood home at 802 S. Lafayette Street in Macomb, Illinois, and I had not seen it since age 11 when we moved to Indiana.

LafayetteSt2

There in splendid detail was:

- the window to my old bedroom
- the buckeye tree I used to climb
- the front sidewalk where I skinned my knee after falling off my clip-on steel roller skates
- the porch window where the Christmas tree sent a warm glow out onto the snow-covered evergreen bushes
- the white-painted front door that swung open the night my dad surprised us in his Santa suit
- the picture window I used to look out to see when my brother Jeff got home from Kindergarten
- and the sloping backyard that we used to roll down just for the fun of it.

I wanted to knock on the front door and get a tour of the inside, but it felt like a line I shouldn’t cross.  As I stood in the front yard and took a picture of the house, it hit me… how much it had NOT changed.  Other than some peeling peacock blue paint, it was mostly the same as we left it.  Maybe this is just a small town phenomenon. In California, old stuff gets torn down and new stuff gets built on the lot. 

Time had not really touched my old home, and it reminded me of the permanence of things. Not just the house, but the permanence of the values I learned growing up in Macomb in the 1960’s – be nice, help others and treat people the way you want to be treated.  Simple rules, really.  No matter what mask or game face I put on in my job today, I cannot escape that part of me…instilled by a loving family and a community that protected its own.

Life is not perfect in a small town. OK…sometimes it can be more Norman Bates than Norman Rockwell. But I choose to recall the best parts of my childhood and draw strength from them, including celebrations of happy times, lessons learned the hard way, and the importance of self-reliance and accountability.

As we drove out of town, we passed the brick courthouse and town square that looked remarkably like the one in the movie “Back to the Future.”  That’s where I was headed alright, back to the future and my current life in the fast lane.  

I love big cities and big city people, but some folks here on the coast jokingly call the heartland of America “flyover country.” If that’s the way they see it, then I hope they keep flying over and don’t stop.  The permanence of the people there, their families and the way they treat each other is something to be celebrated… not mocked.

Growing up in a small town was an important cornerstone for who I am today. And knowing where I come from helps me stay on track for where I’m going.  Have you revisited where you came from?  What memories do you choose to hold on to?

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14 Comments on “Where I come from”

  1. Jan Sysmans Says:

    David,

    My childhood (5-11) home is still around in pretty much the same state as it was when I lived there. I like to drive by there with my kids when I visit. My parents still live in the house I called home from the age of 12-25. I do have many good memories of that childhood home. Thanks for giving me a moment to reflect on them. I still have a grin on my face. Yes, even then, I would get into trouble regularly :-)


  2. David –

    My childhood home (at least my last one) is still there, with my parents in it….but my first home was torn down, and the one that I spent my first 7 years in reminds me just how humble my beginnings were. The license plate on my car says “KOKOMO”….not because all my memories were fond (there were some tough lessons, too), but I always want to remember where I’m from – that helps keep me pointed in the right direction.

  3. Laurie Says:

    I remember that home being much larger also. I always loved going back with Grandma to her old homes and hearing all the stories. You should have knocked on the door of your old home. I know we did it with Grandma one time, and they invited us right in.

  4. Donna Says:

    David, brought back SO many memories of my childhood home in Galesburg, IL. I have been to Macomb several when I was growing up. Thanks for writing this :)

  5. Fred Hensel Says:

    Being a big city boy, New York City, I have come to learn over many years that the best in America is in “fly over country”. I don’t only mean the scenic views but the people and values you speak of.

    There use to be something to say for the “city”, back in the day, so to speak. However, the neighborhood bonding has broken down and quality of life has been substantially replaced by quantity and status.

    I remember the sign on I-80 west that said “America Starts Here”. I imagine another similar sign somewhere around Donner Pass but on the East side of I-80.
    Thanks David.

  6. Jane Says:

    David, I remember that house, and coming to stay there for a visit! For some reason, the memory of the song “Tijuana Taxi” (Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass)playing at your house was part of that visit. One of your parents must have been a fan. Also, I remember while we were visiting, there was a story on the news about an organ explosion at a church – had to be this event: http://www3.gendisasters.com/texas/13369/plainview-tx-church-explosion-aug-1966
    Funny how details stick with you after all these years. I’m sure we all had a great time.

    • davidgoad Says:

      Jane that must have been when I was about 5 years old. And yes my Dad had the Herb Alpert album with the scandalous photo of a woman covered only in whipped cream on the front! We used to play it on the old Victrola record player in the “front room.”

  7. Shelley Says:

    David,
    Yes, I remember that trip. I have done that back home in Jax and feelt like a video tape started going off in my head from senses touched by sight and sound It was cool to watch you turn into that kid again. There is nothing like growing up in a small town and the midwest grows the best people.
    Shell

    • davidgoad Says:

      People from Florida are pretty cool too Shelley :) One of the comments you made on that trip inspired this story. Thanks!

  8. Shelley Says:

    Well it’s nice to know I was inspiring. I am so Profound in my own head. LOL

  9. Dave Scifres Says:

    David,

    My childhood home is still around, but looks far different inside and out than when I lived there as a young man. Of course, that’s because my wife and I took it when my dad died and are refurbishing It from top to bottom and from inside out! It’s been very rewarding!

    Peace,

    Dave Scifres

  10. The Lounge Diva Says:

    David:

    What a beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing a little bit about where you came from, and I know that wherever you are going, you will continue to enhance our lives with your wit and talent.

    Well done, my friend.
    xo
    s

  11. Mary Dee Goad Jackson Says:

    David, I found your Blog sometime back & added itto My Favorites Bar.I am Mary Jackson(nee Goad)probably old enough to be your grandmother.Born in Texas;could we be related???

    • davidgoad Says:

      Nice to meet you Mary! My goad relatives are mostly from Illinois. But we are probably related somewhere down the line!


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