Memories are funny aren’t they? It’s interesting how something you hear, smell or see can trigger a memory. It can be a recent memory or something from decades earlier.
Living in the same town my entire life offers plenty of triggers to a variety of memories spanning a half century.
There is one spot along the main north to south thoroughfare in my hometown that sends me back to the early 1970’s. There was an ice cream shop called Choo Choo Cream. It was so unique because you would sit at a counter and place your order than a model train would emerge from the back to deliver either your ice cream cone or dish of ice cream. My brother and I loved it.
A few miles down the road, I pass a shopping plaza that was the site of a drive-in movie theater. My mind drifts back to high school when my friend’s mom took us to see Robin and Marian. I still remember drinking milk and eating yummy oatmeal cream cookies. Back then, the drive-in was on the outskirts of town. Not anymore. Our city limits extend several miles farther.
When I drive around one of our larger lakes (I live in Lakeland so there are many), I pass the auditorium where I performed in eight years of dance recitals and six years of band concerts. My children graduated from high school in that same auditorium.
Another local lake is the home of large flocks of swans, geese and ducks. The swans are descended from a pair gifted to our city by Queen Elizabeth. I fed the ducks as a child and then as a mom with young children. The local library is on this lake. I have a memory of my mom taking me to check out books, always a large stack. I took my children to the same library for story time and to check out books.
There is a small brick building close by where a hair-stylist opened a shop especially for children. I can see my little boy sitting very still while getting his hair cut.
We have a very quaint downtown area with a park in the center. Not a park with a playground but more like a town square. For whatever reason, whenever I drive downtown at night, especially at Christmas, I see it as I did in the 1960’s — complete with the soundtrack of Petula Clark singing “Downtown” playing in my mind. What makes us remember these things?
I could go on and on — the shopping center in my neighborhood that had the super slide, the schools I attended, the location of the restaurant where we celebrated our engagement with my husband’s family, the movie theater where I was supposed to meet a classmate (a boy) but chickened out, the church where we were married, the studio where my daughter and I both took dance lessons, the stable where she took riding lessons, our old homes. You get the idea. When you have lived in the same place your entire life, you are reminded of past events daily.
It is good to remember. Throughout scripture, we are told to remember — usually to remember God’s faithfulness in the past. Memories of the past can encourage us in the present, but, we should not be like the children of Israel who longed for their past so much that some of them missed the blessings of the future.
Sometimes its like that in the empty nest. We long for the past when our grown children were little and at home, even though we know that can never be. Memories are great, well, most of the time, but, we need to be sure we are not so wrapped up in them that we miss the present.
Have you lived in your current town a long time, even your entire life? Can you relate to these multi-generational memories? Are there specific places that trigger a memory for you? I would love to hear from you.