“You Can’t Go Home Again,” is the title of a biographical novel written by author Thomas Wolfe. The words have also become a popular cliché that has been all but worn out by overuse, but is still as true as ever. If we grow up in a neighborhood and then leave, it is only natural to remember it as it was when we left. Our homes, the schools, the playgrounds, and various business places will remain unchanged in our memories.
As a rule, the majority of our memories will be of the more pleasant things we knew, the good times we had in childhood and youth, the neighbors we knew, our good friends, as well as our parents and other family members who loved us. We tend to remember our successes much more vividly than we do our failures.
If we leave the home town, those memories go with us. They remain with us, ready to be called on any time they are desired or needed. And if things out in the real world get tough, those warm, fuzzy memories of home become extra precious and, if need be, provide us with a soft crutch that is nice and comfortable to lean on.
But going back to that home town or neighborhood can bring a rude awakening. We find many of the old business places are gone, replaced by newer and bigger establishments. The pool halls, dance halls, drive-ins, and other such places that were once a large part of our young lives are gone. Or are completely changed and now attract a different category of customers.
If we’re lucky, our parents will still be there to greet us and make us feel welcome and loved. But most of the old neighbors will have moved away. If we look around for our old friends, we learn that most of them have left for a larger town or city. The ones who remain will now be busy with their own families, jobs, or businesses. No longer will they be carefree as they once were, and just waiting for evening to come so they can go out and have some fun. We may talk for awhile about the “old days,” and all of the fun we had. But before long we are likely to recognize the fact that we no longer have much, if anything, in common.
Re-visiting the old home town and the haunts of youth will most likely afford little consolation to an extremely lonely person,
YOU CAN’T GO BACK
Old “Fritz” Tesch gets mighty lonely
Since his dear wife “Sal” passed on.
When he’s feeling down, Fritz tells folks,
”All the good times are long gone.”
”Our kids left for the big city
Once they were schooled and full grown.
A man don’t have much incentive
For life when he’s left alone.
”As our married years just flew by –
Happy times for Sal and me –
We mostly just concentrated
On our home and family.
”Sally and I never noticed
How the world around us changed.
Nothing’s quite the way it was. Now
Everything’s been rearranged.
”Precious old familiar faces
Mostly have faded away.
My neighbors are complete strangers.
With changes ‘most every day.
”I suppose I need a hobby,
Maybe cards or shooting pool.
Out on a golf course, I fear I
Would look like a complete fool.
”I’ve tried listening to ball games
On my little radio,
But there’s too darned many teams now
And no players that I know.
”I’ve gone looking for my old haunts.
But each search ends as I’d feared,
They’ve all fallen prey to progress
And completely disappeared.
”When younger, I’d sometimes visit
One of the small local bars,
There’s no neon lights there now, just
A sales lot filled with used cars.
”What was once Green’s big cow pasture,
Where we young lads all played ball,
Is the empty parking lot of
A deserted shopping mall.
”Once I hunted squirrels and rabbits
Around here, ‘most anywhere
Without asking for permission.
Then, landowners didn’t care.
”I’m told now I need a license
Just to go and catch one fish.
I long for the good old days, but
That’s a futile, empty wish.”