Monday, June 22, 2015
Evening Drives, 2
A day or so ago, thinking about Father's Day--about my father--I posted here a piece about the "evening drives" my mom and dad, back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, liked to take up to Burton, Ohio, just about a dozen miles due north of our home in Hiram, Ohio, where Dad was teaching at Hiram College (1956-1966). As I wrote there, they liked to get a maple soft ice-cream cone up there at the little stand on the town square. They like to take their young sons along, Their young sons liked it ... mostly.
Then, Saturday afternoon, I spoke with my mom (95) on the phone, reminding her of those drives, and she very well remembered the ice cream. I told her I wished I could send her a cone but that it would be maple milk by the time it got to her. She replied, "Not the best way to eat it." True, Mom. Very true.
After supper on Saturday, Joyce and I decided to drive up to Burton ourselves, just to see--and, hey, if ice cream was in our future (maple ice cream!), well, you can't really help that, can you?
We drove over to Hiram first, then down Hiram's north hill on Ohio 700, past our old home (11917 Garfield Road), and on up to Burton, just the way we had always gone a half-century ago.
So much has not changed. Farms. Amish buggies. Orange day lilies lining each side of the road. Sure, there are some newer places, some buildings that are gone. But my 1959 self would have known where he was--without question.
As we pulled into Burton and saw the village green, I noticed immediately that the ice-cream stand was gone. Remaining was the old cabin that had been on the site since 1931 (I just learned on the Internet--link to information about it). And I could tell that Burton has decided to keep the green as rustic as possible--a decision that, of course, means "no ice-cream stands." But Joyce took a picture of me standing (near?) where it used to be.
We drove on into the little village, which looks much as I remember it: an American Small Town, unsullied by big-box stores and other suburban and urban clutter. We found an ice-cream shop (closed) but then noticed an appealing little coffee shop across from the green. Outside were some older men (my age?). I stopped and asked if any had lived there a long time. A couple had. "Do you remember the ice-cream stand on the green?" One guy did, said it was removed in the 1960s. (I would guess late 1960s?)
Link to YouTube performance by Dylan, The Band, and others.) Something about that song wrings tears from me.
Anyway, last night we asked the Old Guys Outside the Coffee Shop if they sold ice cream inside. And got the affirmative answer we craved. Inside, we saw that maple was not one of the flavors, so I settled for a decaf to sip on the way home.
Near the inside entrance, two other Old Guys had set up to sing and play--a guitar, a five-string banjo. As we were about to head out the door, they launched into ... "I Shall Be Released."
I stopped. Leaned on a post. Listened till they were finished. Told them I loved that song.
We headed out to the car, and on our drive home--all the way--I wept like a child who has just lost his parents.
* This morning (Sunday) Joyce and I, as usual, walked over to Open Door for a little breakfast, coffee (tea for Joyce), the New York Times, and talk.
As we were readying to leave ... on the music system ... guess what was playing?
** At our Father's Day picnic at our son's house down in Green, Ohio, I got a surprise. My cell rang. Caller ID said it was my mom. Mom never calls me--she hasn't been able to dial out for a few years. Usually, when I see her ID, I know that one of my brothers is in her assisted living place, making the call.
But not this time. She wished me a Happy Father's Day, talked to our son and wished him one as well. Talked with Joyce and our daughter-in-law, Melissa. And one of her great-grandsons, Carson (6). Carson told her he loved her. I almost lost it.
I told her we'd driven to Burton the night before. Her reply? "Ohhhhhhhh" in her soft wistful voice, the one that communicated a simple message: I want some maple ice cream. Hearing the ice-cream stand was gone, she sighed again.
Then we lost our connection; I called right back. One of the aides in the unit answered. She had placed the call for Mom, and I was so overwhelmed with gratitude for that thoughtful act that the tears started again.
A weepy couple of days for me ...