It was a mid-July visit to Proctorville, Ohio and to the small farm where I grew up that is on rural route two, otherwise known as Little Paddy Creek Road. In literal time there was only about three hours spent there but figuratively, in my mind I spent years.
Not much has changed near my old home. Little things have changed like a house that once was occupied is now abandoned, run over with weeds and saplings due to no care. Then there maybe a house that is renovated to look brand new. The biggest change is a new bypass which makes getting to my old elementary school a bit more difficult. This school, by the way, looks as new and sturdy as the day I first walked to Mrs. Grazell’s classroom in 1976.
The Ohio River looked inviting. The water was placid with a pretty blue and green hue. Wave Runners and small boats dotted the surface of the water and memories from years past of fishing and swimming flooded my mind. I scanned through radio stations to find myself listening to Willie Nelson and later Survivor and even later Tears for Fears.
The air was thick with humidity and the occasional scent of honey suckle would be temporarily replaced with the smell of the corn growing in the fields. Driving up Route 7 I passed Tracy Gwinn’s (Frenandez) house and the memory of a birthday party came to mind. It was just a few short months ago that Tracy, who lived with her grandmother, told me she was fortunate to be allowed to have that birthday party. I could relate completely because I felt fortunate just to be invited to the party. I looked up to Tracy as one of the “in” people in my junior and senior high school years. For that night because I was invited I felt accepted. I felt on par with other people of the “in” crowd like Benny Thompson, Cathy Wise, Jennifer Ward and Sherry Jack and many others.
I passed the “Dairy Boy” in Crown City. Dad and I would go to Gallipolis many summer weekends and it was always a treat to stop back on the way through to get some ice cream. T.J Belville was a good friend of mine and his father owned that little dairy shop. On occasion when I would spend the night with T.J., there would be a free trip to the “Dairy Boy.”
There is not much to do in Proctorville, Ohio. This is NOT a bad thing. Across the river is Huntington, WV and if you want something to do that is the place to go. For a change, it is just nice to see people sitting on the porch and chatting. I noticed one homeowner built a deck beside the highway. I am sure they would sit there and watch cars go by and chat the evening hours away.
Now it remains true that I love Columbus, Ohio. With May of 2012 marking the 22nd anniversary of my move here, it is official I have lived here most of my life. There are a thousand things I love about this city and I know God has brought me here for a purpose. Yet there are occasions that the small city life can be overwhelming. My heart breaks as I see the racial divisions, the deterioration of some communities and families and the dissipation of things which are sacred. These hurts are the foundation of the purpose to which I have been called.
However, yesterday, for a few hours visit, the sights and smells were pleasant. This truly helped me FEEL that no matter how far I may drive away or how many months or years I spend living somewhere else, in reality Proctorville is home.