After I did my DawnReading this morning at the Open Door Coffee Co. here in Hudson--and as the Memorial Day Parade traffic was surging through the streets and neighborhood--I asked Joyce if she'd like to drive over to Hiram.
Oh yes. She had not been over to the college to pick up her mail in ... well, a while (she's semi-retired, did not teach the spring term).
So off we went, taking all the back roads we could (Mennonite, Diagonal), picked up her mail, then decided to drive over to Garrettsville (three miles away) to get a (Diet) Coke for the way home. But first, we drove down Hiram's north hill, where I showed her the house where my old schoolmate Eddie Troyer had lived (I wrote about him earlier this week when I got news that he'd died)--and the strip of land alongside our old house (nearby), the field that Eddie had plowed and harrowed and seeded so that we could have more lawn. It still is lawn, and running along its northern border, west to east, are some mighty pine trees--towering impossibly high above the yard--trees that were once our wee Christmas trees back in the late 1950s and early 1960s (our family moved away in 1966).
After Garrettsville, we decided to return to Hudson via Pioneer Trail--along its entire length: Hiram to Aurora. We did so for several reasons, and one of the principal ones is that a beloved former Hiram professor of mine--Dr. Charles F. McKinley--routinely drove that way from his home in Hudson. He loved the lingering rural character of the route (as do we), and he was a good friend to me--and to Joyce when she joined the Hiram faculty in 1990.
But there were other reasons, as well. Because I grew up in Hiram (well, chronologically), attended the local school (grades 7-12), the college (1962-66); because my father taught at the college (1956-66); because my mother taught at James A. Garfield HS in Garrettsville (1956-66); because my older brother graduated from Hiram College, as well (1963); because my younger brother attended the Hiram Schools until the high school closed and consolidated in 1964; because my younger brother then attended and graduated from Garfield, where my mom was teaching; because of all of this, Hiram Village and Hiram Township and Garrettsville and environs have great emotional significance for me.
As we joined Pioneer Trail where it terminates on Rt. 82 south of Hiram a bit), we soon began passing things that had ... meaning. Asbury Road--home of Camp Asbury (I used to bike down there--and, later--visited the Aurora Middle School sixth-graders, our son among them one year, who were spending their week at camp); living near the corner of Asbury and Pioneer Trail was Mrs. Esther Nichols, who taught me 7th grade geography and 9th grade algebra--and who later became a beloved colleague in Aurora (where I always called her "Mrs. Nichols"--never "Esther," which was and is unthinkable).
Then there was Monroe's Orchard and Farm Market (it's had other names), where we bought (and still occasionally buy) fruit and cider and maple syrup.
As we drove on west, Joyce told me about some former Hiram College colleagues who had lived in various places.
Near Ohio 44 (near Mantua) is the Green Family Funeral Home, where, sad to say, I've been on more occasions than I want to think about.
Soon, we were in Aurora, and all sorts of other memories. I taught in that district for nearly thirty years (all of them at the middle school level--1966-1978; 1982-1997), so we passed the homes of former students, the site where an AHS girl died in a car crash in the mid-1990s. I remembered, too, that when we lived in Aurora (1990-97), I used to jog east on Pioneer Trail--until some naughty dogs out that way convinced me I should find another, canine-free route (I did).
We passed our former home--60 E. Pioneer--a place we sold in 1997 to a former student and her husband. It still looks great.
At the stoplight at the corner of Pioneer and Rt. 43/306, we could see the house that held the apartment where I was living in the summer of 1969 when I met Joyce. We married, and I moved to Kent.
As we drove the final mile of Pioneer Trail, we passed Aurora High School (in a much-altered building that had not opened when I arrived to teach seventh grade English in the fall of 1966; for six weeks, we shared the "old" high school, split sessions: high school in the mornings, middle school in the afternoons) and a baseball field where I played some games when I was in the Hot Stove League for Hiram back in the late 1950s.
Pioneer ends on Ohio 82--the same road where it commences--and we found ourselves driving west on 82, the road I drove every day the first year I taught in Aurora. I was living, both alone and lonely, in an apartment in Twinsburg (now gone), five miles west of Aurora.
And then we were home. The parade had just ended. We saw children on decorated bicycles rolling home--the excitement over. The flashing lights of emergency vehicles that had been a part of things. People carrying lawn chairs and memories down Church Street. Where we live.