Sunday, May 3, 2020

Losses 1977

In fall 1977, in California where I had lived since 1971, I enrolled in a seminar that caused me to look back at my childhood and think about early influences on my life. Thick notebooks from that "Inner Growth Seminar (I.G.S.)" – filled with my notes, assignments and journal entries – have lain dormant in storage for decades.

Now, with time on my hands because of the coronavirus shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, I've opened old boxes and reviewed the contents to sort out what might be tossed or kept.

Here's a relevant excerpt from my journal, written on October 5, 1977:

I have just written my IGS homework, and then 1 1/2 hours of uninterrupted 'brainstorming' of childhood memories. I started writing down clues, fragments, scenes – anything that came to my head – just to get it down for future reference. No judgment, no thoughts about my parents, just my memories. What can I see? What did I do? Where & how did I play?  The memories are coming faster than I can write. My hand is cramped. One pen has run out of ink & I'm using up a 2nd!
Tears came as I wrote about the Delhi farm. I wish I could go back there. It is so special to have memories like that. Why do these places have to leave the family?  I am sad that my kids can't play there as I did. 
Locust Lawn is spoiled, cut by Rte 95.
My old yard is overgrown, changed.
The big old barn was demolished.
The woods were cut down.
Granddaddy's house and the playhouse are gone or sold.
Delhi is sold.
Pine Knoll burned. The land is for sale.
Kermit's house was moved.
The 1-room schoolhouse was torn down after my 1st grade.
I'm really crying by now. I have remembered these places so clearly tonight and feel the loss. 
What will my kids remember? I feel sad that they do not know the woods + fields + meadows + big old barns + old family houses I played in. 
Tonight –just for tonight– I wish the world had not changed. I want to go back & play in those streams along Nichols Street.

All but one of those losses were in Danvers.

"Delhi farm" refers to an old dairy farm in the Catskills of New York. My mother took us there at least once a year to revisit the places she had loved as a child, spending summers on her grandfather's farm, which his father (James MacDonald) had started in 1850. That property was sold in 1972 after the last of the MacDonald sisters died. End of an era. Memories and photos remain.

For Danvers memories, I created this blog in 2007, thinking that I  – as a"new" writer in a Senior Center's writing group –  was writing for the first time about my Danvers childhood.  Ha!  I hadn't remembered the pages and pages I'd scribbled in notebooks in 1977.

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