I know we have all experienced this. As a child, a friend’s house seems huge. Our own house is large as well. The fair was an ocean. Our courthouse might as well have been a skyscraper. The lumber room alone at Hall’s Hardware was the largest climbing jungle gym on the planet. As a child everything seemed so big. And then years pass and you walk into your childhood friend’s house and what was once huge is small and cozy with a welcoming smell of the past.
I’m not sure how this transition occurs so drastically. Realizing we are very small when these things seem great, we are not as small as their greatness appears.
And then maybe some things don’t change even when we are grown. For example, the other day I was meeting Jennifer for lunch. We agreed to meet at the Sugar Shack on Washington Street, but once I got there it was closed. So I called her and told her we could meet at one of the other two places we had discussed. I told her we could go to Don Juan’s, but I was already all the way across town by the other restaurant.
There was silence on the phone and she then said, “That’s like four blocks away, Callie. You can’t be that far away if you are across town here. It’s Franklinton.” This struck me as so funny, and of course I thanked her for another column idea.
I live between Franklinton and Covington. I shop at both places equally and to go anywhere in Covington outside of the historic area is a major issue. There is road construction, traffic, more road construction, and more traffic. And that is all expected, but when I get to my little hometown of Franklinton to turn around and backtrack four or blocks seems huge.
Well, we WERE finally seated and ordering lunch, and I’m talking and laughing about this with Jennifer. She went on to tell me about when she was a child and her mother would want to shop at Jack Browns, but she wanted to shop at the new cool Winn Dixie, and her mom would say, “No, Jennifer, that is all the way across town.”
What Jennifer did not have to go through was the “No, Callie that is all the way in town.” Yes, there was no problem driving across town to Winn Dixie once we arrived eight miles from our home. But more times than not, if we couldn’t get it at the country store by the caution lights, then we would just have to go without.
Those eight miles seemed like an enormous distance to simply buy milk and bread, and now if I need to go from Target to Bed Bath and Beyond it means traffic, an interstate, more traffic, and about ten miles later stop number two. So, is it any wonder that I still enjoy sinking back into my old mentality when in Franklinton? Oh, shucks! I have to turn around and backtrack four blocks with no traffic lights or even traffic and at the four-way stops there is usually the person across from you telling you to go on and go first because he is a man and notices you are a lady. Yeah, tough times in the hectic world of small town America.
My students still love to hear the stories of the rotary phone that hung on the wall in our kitchen. We shared a party line with my great uncle Joe and great aunt Georgie Mae. They had one long ring and we had two short ones. My students love to hear about how I had to stretch the phone cord as far as I could to whisper to a boy so the whole family couldn’t hear. And as they are laughing about this they are likely texting from their pockets. Their world has become so small, but I don’t mind a bit having these last crumbs of my past lingering around when it comes to my small town that was once so big in my mind. I like that I once knew a time when small town life seemed huge and yet comforting at the same time.