There have been writings
and sayings for as long as I can remember that say, “you can never go home
again.” Many have tried and almost as many have failed to return to those
roots where they spent their early years and regain all the things that made
that time so great. The people and places all change and you find yourself
in a strange time and place. Its almost like you step into a twilight zone
and nothing is real.
I tried a few times to return to my roots. I failed every time and with each
failure, came a knowledge that my world would have to be the one that I
create. It would be up to me to create home. I would have to be the center
of it and build a life around me and my family so that in their future
years, they will remember their home, their roots. I am not being selfish
here nor am I saying that I am all that good at building anything. I am
simply saying, the home I remember was a world built around my parents and
their life. I was a later addition to help fill in the gaps and needs of
their world. Somehow after six other children, it seemed that I might have
just be a post script.
The area in West Virginia where I was born and reared is now becoming famous
because Martha Stewart is spending some time in the federal minimum security
prison there in Alderson. I hope she does bring a lot of press and maybe,
just maybe, some big company like Martha Stewart Inc. or whatever the name
of her company is will bring some industry and jobs and payrolls into that
community which could keep sixty percent of the younger population instead
of losing ninety five percent.
I remember with glee and pride growing up in Alderson. The peaceful setting
was ideal for raising children. Other than living in poverty there was
little in the way of fears and apprehension for parents. There were programs
in sports and such to keep the children busy and sports teams were boosted
and backed by the locals. We grew up respecting our elders and Lord love you
if you disrespected anyone on the street and your parents found out about
it. That fear was more than what was needed to sway the children to behave
themselves. We had our share of problems and run ins with the local police
force. Most of it pranks and complaints from the police were because of
misdeeds pulled on Camp Greenbrier, where all the Martha Stewarts of the
east coast sent their sons for summer camp. We would pull night raids and
cut their docks loose to float down the river and throw cherry bombs into
the compound late at night just to arouse them from their slumber. No pranks
were ever attempted if we thought anyone on either side might get hurt.
Except for a few weeks in January and February, Alderson is a beautiful
place to visit. In the spring when all the hardwoods begin to leaf and the
dogwoods flower up, it can take your breath away. In the summer there is no
other place in the world more peaceful than floating down the Greenbrier
river and fishing for bass and pan fish. Its almost a shame that Martha
won’t get to be In Alderson on the forth of July when thousands return to
their roots and take part in the celebration that takes place over that
week. It is the only time when you can return to your roots there and find
people whom you went to school with.
Fall is one of my favorite time to visit. The hardwoods are all painted up
with reds and browns and yellow. Hiking in the crisp fall air and have the
fallen leaves crunch beneath your feet while listening to the squirrels bark
a warning that a human is invading their space. The trees are shedding their
leaves and telling us they are taking their sap back to the roots and
winterizing them selves for the long dark winter ahead. Fall is when the
cider mills all are making fresh cider and cinnamon doughnuts. Fall is when
the Friday night football games bring the community out to see the young men
put on the pads of fall and do battle on the gridiron.
Winter in December is great. I don’t think there is another sight on earth
in winter as beautiful as looking west along the Greenbrier River which is
frozen over and snow covered, seeing the Christmas lights reflecting from
the old bridge. Those lights have been put up on that bridge since the
fifties. I hope they will be strung across for another fifty years.
Yes, they say you can never go home again, but I do. In my minds eye I go
back all the time and relive the sights, sounds and friendships that
endeared me to that place so many years ago.