Last year, accompanied by my sons Eric and Stuart, I visited my boyhood home in Pleasant Garden, North Carolina, a small village to the south of Greensboro. My family moved from that place in 1938, and I had never been back. As we stopped on the street across from my old family home we engaged in a conversation with a man whom I discovered to be the grandson of someone I once knew as a next-door neighbor. Over the course of the next half-hour or so, this man brought me up to date on my old neighborhood.
All my dear friends and neighbors were gone, and only one, my childhood sweetheart, Betty S., was still among the living; but she now resided far from this place. A new generation, and new families, had moved into the area. Down the road, the old schoolhouse that I once attended was gone, and new schools had been built. Pleasant Garden was still a pleasant place, but it was no longer the village I had known. As I reflected on the sweet memories of my childhood, a breath of nostalgic sadness touched me.
As Thomas Wolfe once wrote, “You can’t go home again.”