I met my childhood friend David on Pecanwood Drive in Anniston at 10:15 this morning. Best we could piece together, we had not seen each other since 1984.
The weather wasn’t entirely cooperative for our walk through our old neighborhood, but it was nothing umbrellas couldn’t mitigate. We examined our old territory lovingly and carefully, enjoying details of the sort that little kids remember and no one else notices. It still says “’77 Rob” on one of the gutter drains, just where Rob Atkinson scratched it with a stick in the wet concrete most of 35 years ago. We found the part of a Grand Prix emblem fused to the asphalt where a car burned in the street between our houses about 1980, though it’s now worn almost completely smooth. Our creek still flows, though all of the wooded trail approaches to it are gone, thanks (it appears) to someone who has massively overbuilt the neighborhood on the east side of Sandrock.
I had determined with a casual examination on an earlier trip that our big red clay pit we called “Devil’s Hill” or “Devil’s Pit” probably had houses and yards on it now, and later confirmed it on Google Maps. But I wanted us to stand where it was on this junket. This ends up being a bit of a challenge for two adults. See, no one much cared that little boys were passing through their backyards a few times a day headed to and from trails, forts, and such.
But grown men don’t pass through. Grown men trespass. Grown men must be up to something.
It didn’t seem advisable to walk up Walt Adams’ old driveway and disappear out the back to get there, like we did 30 years ago. So we walked down Cherry Circle and kept going, because that was how you got to it from the west. (Still a bit of trespassing, but it was between two yards, more or less, and our exposure was shorter.) Clearly, no one had passed through in some time. I think I recognized one familiar spot, but it was thoroughly reclaimed by stickers and vines. Nevertheless, we bush-hogged our way to where Devil’s Hill was, and yup, it’s homes, on streets hanging off Coleman that didn’t exist when we were growing up.
Then we drove a bit, taking in essentially all of Golden Springs. Stopped at what is now called the Norwood Hodges Community Center and got a few steps, including a hoof around the circuit I rode in the Cystic Fibrosis Bike-a-Thon. (Poetically, it was 31 miles, 31 years ago.) Checked on Edwin’s old house. There it is. Checked on Chris and Terri’s old house. There it is. Checked on Golden Springs Elementary. There it is.
Off to Mata’s for a leisurely lunch. Well, it would have been, but it seems they’re closed on Sunday. Absurd. Over to Classic on Noble, which is the place to be in Anniston (and for which we were badly underdressed, particularly for Sunday lunch, but hey, we didn’t know we were going there). What is advertised as “brunch” is actually a massive high-quality smorgasbord in every direction, and we had a grand time. I recognized the hostess as Betty, the woman who taught me racquetball and the face of the YMCA in the late ’70s and early ’80s. (I’d have described her as “old” then. She really is now.) We had dessert and coffee with David’s parents, who go every Sunday after church, and it was marvelous to see them. David’s mom told me they still call our old house “Bo and Jenny’s house.”
After a promise of getting our wives and children together at the lake this summer, we parted. I expected we’d have fun, and it was so much more than I even thought it would be. You know, I didn’t take a single photo, but I’m not sure that matters. The things that made the day special were really things that only David and I can appreciate, and we were there.
God bless old connections rekindled.