I grew up here; in my little hick town; up until the 7th grade, that is.
My daddy moved us outta there just as my voice was cracking, hair was growing in funny places, girls weren’t as stupid no more and just before I was supposed to go into town and see Old Yeller upside the courthouse…
Now, I recollect that I haven’t seen home…for nigh on 35 years, if I’m recollectin’right.
And here I stand….
Lots of echoes….
My little League field is still there but, I remember the centerfield wall was at least a mile farther back….and the bleachers only hold tens of folks, not thousands of screaming fans, like I remember .
The old building where I got busted for shooting spit balls out our bus window at folks sitting in front of my Uncle Keatons Barber shop has been boarded up for a while now they tell me, and is probably haunted most likely.
I wonder if that old Coca-Cola cooler is still in there…waiting to bite my hand off.
The high school is now the middle school.
I couldn’t even find the elementary school; all I found was a Dollar General and a Rite Aid…
There’s a big chicken processing plant just down the road from the square and my little down town area smells like blood and guts when it’s hot and humid.
And, It’s hot and humid today…It’s always like that in the hot months; March thru March.
It’s really bad at the Walmart.
The big, smelly chicken killing corporate entity wasn’t here when I was a wee lad; or Wally world.
We always went to the Cagles plant in Pine Mountain to catch the runaway, escaped chickens and turn them into free range eggs and dumplings.
Looking at the town square, thru my 50 year old eyes, nothing looks the same; it looks so small and poor, and so….so….south Georgia.
Wow, there’s Mr Teeks Liquor store, STILL OPEN! HA!!
He’s still got a big rebel flag hanging out front by the road to, and a sign on the door telling folks to pull up their pants.
Poor, Mr. Teek; he’s black and like, 1000 years old, don’t you know. I find his show of independence and liberty as a business owner offensive.
He’d beat the dust off my ass if I told him that.
He still calls me, that “Clarke boy” and I still say “Yessir” not nigger.
Mr Teek ain’t no nigger…
He just be, Missa Teek..
Still sells RC Cola’s….weird.
There’s kudzu growing and hanging everywhere and all the cars have that layer of Georgia red clay dirt roads.
Like most folks that go back home, I reckon, I remember my home town being so much bigger back then…full of wonder, people and noise; stuff to do.
It’s impossible to believe that it’s been 35 years or so since I explored the darkest jungles and the mysterious dirt roads of my childhood home; or graced the shiny, echoing halls in my elementary school; a different world indeed…
A world full of hostile Cherokee Indians, Revenuers and damned Yankees.
Yep, lot’s different now…
I don’t like this world much, come to think of it.
It’s still quiet mind you but, a different kind of quiet; nobody on the street.
They probably in the house under the AC on the computer writing a stupid blog or posting a Jesus money meme on Facebook.
Nothing much to do outside, anymore, I guess.
There’s trees, creeks, arrowheads, bugs, mosquito sprayers and shit….plus it’s humid as Hell.
Now, for me it seems, there’s only fading memories and the smell of blood, guts and corporate invasion.
The killing of mom and pop was a silent affair.
I wonder if my town remembers me?
If it does, I think it remembers me being smaller.
You think my town feels old, too….?
Do you think a town has a soul?
And I swear to you, the ceiling in my old junior high, the new high school, is 3 feet lower…
Do you think that schools have souls?
I wonder if a town knows it’s dying like we do, most times?
The killing of mom’s and pop’s kills our towns.
“You got till noon to get outta Dodge” said Walmart, fingering his two ivory handled scan guns.
…and they left because no one came to the rescue.
I was gone too.
I wonder if I’d stayed I woulda noticed any changes?