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Memories and Musings: Hometown melody

By Gene Gallelli

Maybe we all don’t have a Mayberry or an Aunt Bee, but we all have — drum roll — a Hometown.

Notice I’ve capitalized Hometown, and I know only proper nouns deserve that honor, but if the town where we were raised doesn’t merit a capital H, then I don’t know what does.

If you don’t remember your first crush, first kiss or introduction to the principal’s office, I suggest someone take your pulse. If you remember many of the aforementioned, then you’re just bragging. I remember my parents sending me off to kindergarten to learn to play with others, make friends, and wow my classmates with my knowledge of the alphabet—I had to sing it. She and my dad never got upset because I couldn’t read the evening paper…yet. We did have to take a difficult test that required us to know how to jump, skip, and run.

My hometown had a creek—we pronounced it crik—with a swimming hole featuring a rope swing for splashing fellow swimmers. We were in awe of all the Hometowns that boasted an ocean, lake, or river for swimming, and wondered if they wished they had a “crik.”

You can bet that all hometowns had parades, and Fourth-of-July fireworks, carnivals with Ferris wheels and fortune tellers, not to mention shooting galleries with rifles with bent sights. (I treasured the “gold” ring I won that turned my finger green.)

Of course, every town had a favorite place for hot dogs, hamburgers and ice cream; some even had ice-cream flavors like rum-raisin, pistachio, and dark cherry. (Interestingly, you can almost tell a person’s age by the size of the cereal selection in their hometown grocery store; I just remember Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies and Shredded Wheat.)

In most if not all hometowns, proper names were considered optional. Why bother with adult-given names like Frank, Mary, Larry or Sue, when creative names like Biskie, Ankles, Poochy, and Beaky would do.

All of us can be taken back to our Hometown by a scent, a song, or a wrinkled photograph alongside a dried Carnation or torn prom tickets, but our hearts always speak the truth. Hometowns were, are, and always will be the people we knew and loved, and the places and events we walked together, often holding hands.

 

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