July 14th, 2009
Recently, my brother Pete came to Savannah to attend our mother’s one-year memorial service. Since he was planning to be here for a week, I suggested that we take a road trip to Greenville, SC where we lived when we were children. Pete and I were not born in Greenville, but it’s the place where we grew up, so it’s always been home.
Through the years, I stayed in contact with my Greenville friends. We were bridesmaids in each other’s wedding, and continued to share cards and phone calls even after we had children. I even attended a couple of reunions for Greenville High graduates. Pete, however, for reasons known only to him, never seemed to be interested in keeping contact with his friends and classmates.
My brother didn’t take to the idea of the trip until I suggested we make it a game, a kind of adventure, to find the five places where we lived the eleven years we spent in Greenville. Locating these houses had been the topic of many discussions between us. Our father had died many years ago and Mama was not very forthcoming when it came to incidents in the past. Somehow, it seemed important to us to find these houses that were part of our childhood.
When we moved to Greenville in 1942, we spent the first night at a hotel. The next day, my father located the Greek Church on DeCamp Street. He found that one of the parishioners owned an apartment house across from the church. My mother, who was pining for a Greek Community after two years in St. Augustine, Florida where there was no Greek Church, didn’t want to leave, so we rented one of the apartments for a short time.
My father soon bought a house in an area called Eastover, off Laurens Road. Thus, began the little game my parents played for the next several years. Daddy, who liked open spaces and shunned neighbors, would move us to the edge of town. Mama, a city girl, would be unhappy and eventually, we would move back to town.
We didn’t stay at Eastover long. Our next house was for Mama, a small pink stucco house in town on Elizabeth Street. I remember that it was the first time I had a room of my own. I am not sure how long we stayed there, maybe a couple of years. Then, Daddy found a beautiful piece of property in a section called San Souci, even farther from town than Eastover. There was a larger house with fruit trees, a rose garden and a chicken house. My father was so excited. He figured Mama could have a garden and can the vegetables and fruit, take care of the chickens while he, the romantic that he was, could enjoy the beauty of the property and write his stories.
San Souci didn’t suit Mama, so we moved back to town to North Main Street where my mother was happy in a new brick home. By this time, Pete and I were teenagers, and since we supported Mama’s point of view, all three dug in our heels and this was our fifth and last move in Greenville.
In the more than fifty years since we left, Greenville has changed from a little mill town to a thriving city. The apartment house on DeCamp Street where we first lived is no more. In fact, the street has been taken over by a parking lot behind the Greek Church. The two houses in town were easy to find and looked much the same. The two houses on the outskirts of town were more difficult because neighborhoods have sprung up where there used to be fields. With the help of Jimmy Konduros, an old friend, we persevered and found them.
Pete enjoyed our road trip to Greenville. He’s even considering going to the next high school reunion. Thomas Wolf said that you can’t go home again. But, maybe you can if you only go home for a visit.
Do you have a story about going back to your home town for a reunion or just for a visit? How did it feel?
Tags: articlesThis entry was posted on Tuesday, July 14th, 2009 at 6:32 pm and is filed under storytelling. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.