On the subject of goodbyes, I submit a very short passage from my novel HIGHWAY TO OBLIVION which touches on a farewell to an era, to a lifestyle, to not only a place, but more importantly to a sense of place:
Fond memories from her childhood struggled to the surface as well. The way the sidewalk had narrowed in front of the Payson house next door --- a slight hill and frost-heaved cracked asphalt, a challenging obstacle course for a royal blue Schwinn. At the end of the narrow part, after the tiny dip, the loading area in front of the brick A & P, a miniature version of the big supermarket on the other side of town, this one perfectly-sized for a kid to run errands for her grandmother, to snag a long piece of licorice for herself, not a block from home. Occasionally, that narrow spot in the sidewalk came back to her. It became a mysterious part of a dream or hung on the edge of her consciousness like a forgotten debt. Sidewalks should always be interesting for kids.
An elderly man with a horse and cart delivered fresh vegetables to the A & P, burlap sacks of potatoes, piles of carrots with long green leafy stems, mounds of multi-colored squash. An iron carriage weight held the horse and the little girl couldn’t believe that a big horse who could pull such a heavy cart would be placidly stopped in one place by only a piece of iron. An organ grinder with a red-capped monkey sometimes entertained kids in front of Hussey’s Hardware, the name on the yellow-brick storefront spelled out in stained-glass letters. This was the fifties. This was Maine. And these were still real things.
They formed an indelible part of her and they lived with her alone because her best friends from that time were both dead. The A & P was long gone, the sidewalk was widened and flattened, but no one ever used it. Cheap plastic siding covered Hussey’s stained glass, a fast-food joint defunct before it flourished. No more organ grinders or carriage weights or Schwinns. She grieved for her house. She grieved for her dead friends. She grieved for the monkey and the horse and the stained glass, but mostly she grieved for that narrow part of the sidewalk and vowed it would always stay with her.
Causes Mara Buck Supports
Kennebec Valley Humane Society, Amnesty International