As I mentioned in my previous post, Goodnight and I took a drive to Smalltownville to visit Gr8. It’s been a lovely visit so far.
This morning, my mother told me that she would like me to pick up a dozen eggs for her. Rather than make the five block trip to the Smalltownville market myself, I asked her if she was up to getting out and joining me. She was. So I rolled Goodnight out of her comfy position in Gr8′s recliner to join us. I had a plan.
When Gr8 got into my car, I said, “I just want to warn you ahead of time, that I’d like to take you on a drive in the country before we get your eggs. It will do us both some good. My knee still hurts like crazy and I think mental health is as important as physical health. Okay?”
Gr8 just smiled at me. She knew I would find a country road that neither us had ever been on and find a way to make us all smile about it. It just happens, though, without too much planning on my part.
We left at 8:45 a.m. to ‘get the eggs’.
I headed north out of Smalltownville. I told her that I was actually curious about where a specific road in the next small town would lead us. I didn’t know where it went and wanted to find out. So . . . . we took a left turn at the corner where, for most of my life, I’ve taken a right. In retrospect, I’m certain I was influenced my the ghost of Robert Frost and his Road Not Taken.
The towns are small, so it wasn’t long before we were out in the countryside again. We drove a while and soon I realized that I was headed to a town where I had travelled with my high school band to play in their summer festival – a festival of corn-on-the-cob. What a good place to do some sight-seeing.
Sight-seeing in a small town isn’t like going to big places boasting tourist attractions. It’s much different. We looked at very old brick homes that are sturdier than they appear on their time-worn exteriors. We looked at old businesses that used to employ many of the local residents and drew residents of neighboring communities for work, as well. We noticed that the main thoroughfare in the business district had been transformed enough to prohibit cars from ‘cruising the main drag’ like folks did when I was young.
Not a problem for my Chevro-sleigh. I could see that all I had to do was go around a building, drive through a parking lot, and come out on the other side to continue my drive.
What was on the other side? Could that be a thrift store? Oh my! ”Mom? Wanna stop in for a moment – you know, just for a quick look?”
Gr8: I doubt if they are open on Sunday.
Gram: It’s Saturday. Let’s see if they have Saturday hours.
We went into the store and had a great time looking around. All three of us found some useful things. More importantly, someone who knew my mother, introduced herself and had a good long chat with Gr8.
When we left the thrift store, we pointed the car toward home, but via a different route. We were making a loop rather than backtracking. Backtracking wouldn’t be as fun.
When we arrived at the small town between the one where the thrift shop was and Smalltownville, I noticed the time and thought it would make a nice stop to take Gr8 and Little Gr8 out for a meal. We found a quiet family restaurant and enjoyed our dinner together. The restaurant was across the parking lot from the public swimming pool where I got to go once every summer when I was a child. The restaurant wasn’t there years ago. It had been an ice-cream shop and cones were only five cents. Ah the good old days, eh?
By the time we left the restaurant, we had been gone from home about three hours, just to go five blocks for a dozen eggs. Fun!
We headed toward home. When we were a mile out of Smalltownville, Gr8 wanted to see if a friend of hers was at home, but as we drove past her house, Gr8 remembered that her friend was going to volunteer at the Smalltownville food shelf and had told Gr8 to stop by for a visit. So . . . we did. GN calls Gr8′s friend her BFFWAOP (Best Friends Forever with an Old Person), so she had to say hi and give her a hug, too.
Fun stop for me. The Smalltownville food shelf is housed in an old convent that is no longer inhabited by nuns. I had attended the grade school that was adjacent to the convent, but never really had an occasion to see much of the convent – only the kitchen when I would rake the leaves away from the back door for the nun/cook who would pay me back with a cookie. I raked for her whenever I could.
When I was in grade school, the old convent housed ten nuns. Eight of them taught in the grade school, one was a cook and the other was the church organist who gave piano lessons, too. I took piano lessons from her beginning the summer after I completed first grade.
I remember my first piano lesson distinctly. She opened the music book to the first page and asked me to read. It said, “To the pupil:”
The old nun asked me if I knew who the pupil was.
I wasn’t sure. It was an unfamiliar word to me and had an aire of importance to it, so I said, “You are!” with all the innocence of my youth. She just smiled at me and had me continue reading. I don’t remember exactly when I figured out that I was the pupil, but I remained her pupil until I took over her post as the church organist when I was in the seventh grade. She retired and moved away from Smalltownville to the priory where she lived out her years – to the age of 103.
I’m sure one of the upstairs bedrooms in the empty convent was hers.
The kitchen looked much as it I remembered. The hill where the autumn leaves collected outside the kitchen door had been leveled for the back addition to the grade school. It didn’t level my memories, however.
By the time we left the convent and said our good-byes to BFFWAOP, we had been gone over four hours. The Smalltownville grocery market was two blocks from the convent. Gr8 and Little Gr8 went in to finally find the eggs that were the reason for getting out of the house in the first place.
I sat in the store and texted my sis in another state to tell her about the convent and to make her a wee bit jealous at our thrift shop treasures. We had a good electronic trip down memory lane while I waited for the egg-hunters.
Smalltownville holds a charm for me. Perhaps it’s because I can leave it and come back whenever I want to – something I couldn’t do as a child. Perhaps it’s because Gr8 still lives there and she is the reason to enjoy it still. It could be that the dusty roads close to home that I have yet to discover lure me there. What I really believe, however, is that Smalltownville holds a charm for me because I have grown up enough to notice what was there all along.
Besides, it’s so much fun going out to buy a dozen eggs!