"He hath made every thing beautiful in His time..." (from Ecclesiastes 3:11)
"The long and winding road that leads to your door
Will never disappear
I've seen that road before it always leads me here
Leads me to your door ..."
Yes, that's from the famous song by The Beatles. I thought of that song this past Sunday afternoon as I took a pleasant and familiar walk in Canton, Massachusetts. I love to take Sunday afternoon walks. It can be a bit difficult to do during the winter walks; frankly, I don't take walks so much during the winter, but on Sunday the temperature was in the 50s in the Boston area. I used to love to take Sunday afternoon walks when I Webster, Massachusetts earlier in this decade. I only lived there for a little over a year, but the beautiful Webster Lake recreation area was a mere seven minute walk from my residence. And, the one mile walk to downtown Webster was also rather pleasant. (Webster has probably the most beautiful and impressive Town Hall complex in all of Massachusetts!) And, I loved my Sunday afternoon walks during the many years I lived in Framingham, Massachusetts! I'd take various routes in Framingham. During the final year I lived there my favorite was to walk to the old Framingham Burial Ground in the "Framingham Centre" area. Canton, though, is extra special and extra significant. I never thought I'd live in Canton again. This is what I call my "third incarnation" in Canton. It's a temporary stop. On Sunday afternoon, I made the familiar trek from my residence at Independence and Prospect Streets to downtown Canton...almost to Bolivar Street, and then back. Boy, what a flood of memories I experienced on this constitutional! The main section of this walk is Sherman Street and I could rename it, "Memory Lane"!
I may forget what I did with my car keys or my wallet, but the memories of forty, or fifty or more years ago are very vivid. I remember the first time I walked that route on a weekday with my mother and my siblings. It was 1959. I was only four-years-old. My brother Eddie was three. Dianne was just about a year and a half old and in a stroller. In those days, the family had only one car which my father had taken to work, but my mother did not yet drive a car that far back. She had a few stops to make. Mama made it an adventure. We had to stop and look at the two "brooks". One is located just before Pequit Street, and still looks very much as it did then. One tiny brook was farther up the road, and today is essentially dried up and non-existent. We stopped at the "Five and Ten" which has not existed in years. We stopped at "Jack and Paul's Variety Store". Mama usually bought us "Life Savers" candy. We may have stopped at Dykeman Pharmacy. I think we also stopped at the public library. It was very unusual for my mother to walk downtown and not stop at the library! To a child that small, it seemed as though I'd walked to the Land of Oz and back! It was long and it was an exciting adventure!
There were at least two dozen times we made that walk in 1959 and 1960 before I started school in September of 1960. Each time was similar and exciting. I had no idea how many times in my lifetime I'd travel that route! As a child I sometimes walked to Catholic religious classes ("C.C.D.") on certain days after school. That seemed like a drudgery and I did not like it. Most of my elementary school grades were at the Dean S. Luce School on Independence St., just a stone's throw from our house. My fifth grade, however, was held at (of all places) Canton High School. That year, the elementary schools were so overcrowded that the School Dept. took a floor of the high school's new wing and made it into a mini-elementary school. I didn't like the walk to Canton High; Sherman Street felt long and tedious in those days, especially during the winter months. I did the Sherman Street walk for junior high (long before the Galvin Middle School was built) and high school. That walk became much too familiar and boring. It seemed like anything but an adventure in those days! The idea of a fun walk with Mama, stopping and looking at brooks, and all that kind of thing seemed really stupid and irrelevant to a teenager!
My "second incarnation" of living at the Independence Street house was right around 1980. It was for a couple of years. I know today radio hosts make a lot of fun of young adults who live with their parents. Well, I did it for a couple of years. It was not a lot of fun. I remember taking that Sherman Street walk many times then. In those days, there was no leash law, and you'd have all kinds of menacing dogs trying to intimidate you. Today, there are no menacing dogs, and the occasional dog is a passive one on a leash. There are, however, lots of coyotes who live in the woods off Sherman Street. They are seldom seen in the daylight hours, but I actually saw a coyote cross Sherman Street as I was driving to work around 5 a.m. one day! Trust me, there were no coyotes in that area in the 1980s!
Every time I walk by the Roache Funeral Home (and I know it has a slightly different name today) I think of my Uncle Raymond's funeral which took place there in 1972. Attending that funeral left me one day short of having perfect attendance for my Senior year at Canton High. Uncle Raymond died at sixty-five. That age seemed very old to me. Today, at fifty-nine, it seems rather young! I also think of my brother Eddie's funeral. No, it was not held at that funeral home, but I remember that at the time of his death in 1983, Sherman Street was being totally reconstructed and was literally down to nothing but dirt! I also remember lots of frantic drives up Sherman Street circa 1998 and 1999 when each of my parents were elderly and sick. I don't like to remember those days.
Yes, there was a flood of memories as I walked up Sherman Street on Sunday. In fact, it struck me that in walking from downtown Canton, Sherman Street from Pequit Street to Prospect Street is actually an incline! You're walking up a slight hill. As kids, Eddie or I might excitedly run up that stretch of road. I thought of it as flat, never as an incline. In fact, that brings to mind another memory. On one of Mama's adventuresome walks, a neighbor stopped and offered us a lift. Eddie cried and protested that his Daddy told him to never get into a car with strangers, so it ended up that the only one who got into the black '54 Chevy and accepted a ride was me!
Toward the end of my walk on Sunday, I wondered if Sherman Street will still exist in the year 2069 and what it will look like. I'm a very serious evangelical Christian who really believes Jesus Christ's Second Coming is right on top of us and who finds it hard to believe things will still continue on as they are to 2069- but I also realize they might. Will most of the same houses still be there? Will the cars "drive themselves"? Will drones be flying all over the place? Will it still be a place that's suitable for a nice Sunday walk?
I expect that long before 2069 I'll be walking on the streets of gold in Heaven. The long and winding road of this life is certainly past halfway for me as far as my lifespan goes. My father was always asking, "Where does the time go?!" After Sunday's walk, I was asking the same question.
What Are You After?
1 day ago