There is a saying, “You can’t go home again.” Well, I just did – sort of. Whoever coined that saying knew that if you return to your former home, not everything will be the same. Indeed, that may be why you left in the first place. In my case, only my father and I have meaningful memories of Connecticut; my brother and sister have to depend on our memories of the place, and of course, my wife, daughter and granddaughter have never been there. Still, it’s impressive how little has changed. Is my memory really that good, after 45 years?
Before Kentucky, and before Florida, my family was in Connecticut, from September 1964 to April 1966. We lived in a town the size of a postage stamp named Huntington. After leaving, I never thought I would come back, until a couple of weeks ago. Then last week, I learned that Huntington is exactly 25 miles from where I’m staying now, so I started planning for the trip that I made today (June 18, 2011).
Anyway, the GPS took me down some winding country roads through the forest, which reminded me of the road from Lexington to Boonesborough, back in Kentucky. Except for the bit on Interstate 84, it was all country driving. Three miles before I arrived, I came upon a place called Jones Winery, and a Christmas tree farm. But this was the first real sign I was getting close – the Huntington United Methodist Church.
When I arrived, the house itself looked about the same as I remember it, especially the driveway.
The backyard looked very familiar, too. Two things were different: The wooden fence marking the property line is no longer there (the field behind it used to be a horse pasture), and there is now a swimming pool where Mom & Dad once set up a badminton net.
I saw the owner of the house, a fellow who looked like he was in his forties, mowing the lawn by the street. It must have been a shock to him when I introduced myself: “Hi, I’m Charles Kimball, and I’m back!” He didn’t have any idea who lived there in the 1960s (I would have been surprised if he did), so he told me to go to the next-door neighbors, let them know I was coming, and then went back to his work.
The neighbors were an elderly couple who claimed to remember my family, including a little boy who ran around outside a lot; I guess that was me. I quickly brought them up to date on where the family is, and chatted with them for about twenty minutes. With the Internet being the kind of place that it is, I won’t post their names here. Here they are at a distance.
The barn behind their house is still there. No horses in it, though. Heck, I don’t remember any horses when I lived next door!
And one more look at the neighbors’ house, as I pulled away. You can see our former house in the background.
From there I drove downhill a third of a mile, to get to downtown Huntington. That also looked much like I remembered it. I could not find the school, where I attended kindergarten and first grade, but it must have been nearby, because I used to walk to it. Perhaps it no longer exists, or maybe I just made a wrong turn.
St. Paul Episcopal Church, the church we used to attend, was easy to find. It’s divided by the main road running through Huntington. The parish hall is on the right side of the road.
The main sanctuary itself is a narrow but tall building on the left side of the road. My brother and sister were baptized here, when they were two years old.
Next to the sanctuary is Huntington’s cemetery. All of the tombstones I read had dates in the 1800s, so it has been around a long time. Longer than the 1889 date mentioned on the sign in the middle picture.
I bet my mother used to go shopping here. After I took the picture below, I turned around and started back to my apartment.
All things considered, I’m amazed at how much time seems to have stopped since I was last in Huntington, 45 years ago. There were changes, like the styles of cars in the last picture, but they’re all minor changes, when you think about it.