I lived in Elkins, West Virginia more than 50 years ago. Everyone has gone and moved away. The town is so small. I remember it larger. Maybe my legs were shorter. Surprisingly buildings remain and I can remember the people who once lived there.
My third grade school, Elkins First Ward, is now an apartment building. Repurposed and re-tasked, the town has changed so that the number of students has dropped and shifted. The high school nearby is gone too. Third grade to sixth grade. I had a split class in fourth grade. Half were fourth grade students (us) and the other half of the class was fifth grade. We still got educated “good.”
My house – back then – my mom built it. Well, at least she directed the construction. Three bedrooms, we lived there for five years. I lay in the side yard looking up at the clouds and thinking my parents were so old. The summers were endless. Kids in the neighborhood would surround the house and we’d play steal the flag. It’s fifty years later and no tall trees overhang the house. It hasn’t changed too much.
Anne Leyen lived here. She moved to Ohio shortly after I moved back to New York. I tried to reach her. I just wanted to know if she has had a nice life. Her sister eventually replied that Anne does not do reunions and does not do email. Oh boy, I guess she’s older than I thought. Twitter? Her dog Taffy shit in the front yard. We stepped gingerly around her yard.
The Nestors lived here. The youngest daughter painted my brother Eric completely with white house paint. Eric took a bath in turpentine. I can’t imagine it was healthy. The paint eventually came off.
Ricky Solow lived here. He was bigger than me so that put me behind him in the pecking order of kids. Eventually I triumphed – brains over brawn. But the chips you have as a kid you never leave completely behind. We watched Kennedy debate Nixon. I was annoyed because cartoon programming was suspended.
The Trimble house, they lived here a while. It was right across from the school. Colleen invited me to play one day. All I remember is the three speed English racer her brother had in the hallway. Yes, back then it was forward to invite a boy over to play. It’s a nice memory that sat with me more than fifty years. The house changed a lot, but it’s still there. And my memory has mellowed quite a bit too. I rode a Roadmaster Sears one speed. The English racer was so exotic. I ride a Specialized Tricross nowadays. And Colleen remembered that I nearly fell out of the back seat of my father’s car when we were kids. Someone else pulled me back inside and my father drove on without ever checking. No harm, no foul.