I was exhausted just from making the list. (There were 10.)
We made a day of it, a day full of memories. I realized after a couple of hours that one little spot of ground or bare floor can generate tears or laughter, joy or sadness, or a severe case of nostalgia.
Our journey was geographical, not chronological, and began in Bremen, Georgia.
It was in a little rental house there that our family gathered around the TV set as we — and the world— watched Jack Ruby take the life of Lee Harvey Oswald. We had spent those recent hours and days in mourning with our neighbors over the death of President Kennedy.
By the time President Johnson was inaugurated just over a year later, we had purchased a home just a block away. In the springtime, a tulip tree burst into bloom in the front yard.
Our girls liked living there, but it was just too far away from “home” and family.
Our next stop was in Rome, and the neighborhood has changed so much I couldn’t even be sure about the house.
But my mind’s eye focused on the winter we were there. The girls had a new puppy and we named him Perky. He filled their days with fun and games. There was a snowfall that year and they had fun sliding down a nearby hillside.
Time was flying, and by the time we got to Dalton we began to feel the pressure. We found the tiny little house where as newlyweds we lived for just a few months after being evicted from a duplex for pruning a very healthy mimosa tree. (That’s a rather convoluted story for another time.)
Then we drove by what was once a nice little bungalow just off the Cleveland Pike. It seems now to be occupied by a huge litter of cats and kittens. But it was a real home to us as we brought our second daughter home from the hospital there.
Our next stop was across town. With the help of a GPS (Dalton has grown and changed), we found the one that kept us the longest up to that point. The house still stands and is quite pretty.
Our best memories are there: our third daughter was born, we owned the house (with the bank); we had family close by. A vivid memory came back to me as I stared at the front door. I recall standing there in the nighttime, watching as Sputnik slowly moved across the sky. And one precious memory there is of our second daughter as she takes her first steps into the arms of a teen-age friend.
Our next Dalton stop was at a row of eight rundown apartments, one floor, our first home together.
Window air conditioners, sagging doors and for sale signs tell the story. There are no mimosa trees.
Our final stop in Dalton was to a vacant lot. Our house there was a rental. It was next door to my mama, which was a blessing since I was expecting.
I’m afraid Samantha’s photograph of that location doesn’t say much. I was hoping there would be a few leftover daffodils. On March 4, 1955, they had bloomed overnight while I was in the hospital delivering our first baby.
Our drive home took us through Fairmount, where we lived for a while. We made our final stop in Canton. The house there, and the yard and neighborhood, still hold precious memories for me. I am so thankful that the house is so nice, and I am especially thankful that we could spend a few years there. The friendships we made are priceless and many folks who touched our lives there remain a part of our lives today.
I thought how all of us have special places with meaning, and couldn’t help noting that April 8 marks the day in Atlanta Stadium in 1974 that Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record. I was there with my mama and some friends.
Mama had gone to the restroom and didn’t make it back to her seat to hear that ball and bat collide.
Home plate (and our homes), like the song, is gone, but “the melody lingers on.”
Juanita Hughes is retired head of the Woodstock Library.