Mr. Chris's Blog:
down to earth
WHERE AM I FROM?
February 22, 2016
Staunton, VA is a small city full of neat hills and people, with a population just shy of 25,000. It is quaint and everyone knows everyone. We lived on the north side of town in a quiet, subdivision called Sherwood Forest. It was full of woods for kids to play war and build forts in, and kids there were, everywhere. The neighborhood had a small bait and tackle shop where we would go buy soda and candy. The city park was a 10-minute bike ride; I would ride there to play cup-ball, see the animals, or swing at the playground. Downtown was a 15-minute bike ride; I would ride there to trade baseball cards, hit the arcade and try to get a free coke at Grand Piano & Furniture, which they routinely offered as a courtesy to shoppers. It was a different time then and it was safe for kids to roam and explore towns like this, and that I did. Growing up wasn’t perfect, but it sure seemed close enough to me.
This is the picture of my home place in Staunton. My parents still live there and I still sleep in my basement bedroom when I am there. Often, I am by myself as I routinely travel to a nearby town for overnight work and I opt to stay with Mom and Dad vs. a hotel. It is a strange but neat experience to be 42 years old, hanging out in your childhood bedroom. For the record though, I have since taken down the Van Halen and Ferra Fawcett posters.
This is the tree that I climbed and carved my name into as a kid; the same tree that I took prom pictures in front of. The porch is a recent addition, and we now sit there and watch my kids perform shows for us around that tree. I have no idea why an old tree makes for a good stage backdrop, but it evidently does.
This is the front yard where we searched for Easter eggs and that I mowed as a teen. I also used the mower and a shovel once to make a golf course in the back yard; Mom and Dad loved that. It is the same backyard where my dog Mandy chased frisbees, where we flew on swings tied to old trees, where we learned how to play baseball, and where I “tossed my cookies” after learning that alcohol wasn’t something to play around with.
I rode hot wheels, played basketball, and washed cars in this driveway. The house sits at the corner of 2 streets that join at a 90-degree angle, both of which ascend up a hill. Bottom line, it can be a dangerous intersection for cars, which means it can be a double-dangerous intersection for kids who happen to ride a hot wheel or chase a ball into the street. I watch my kids like a hawk when they are playing in that front yard. It’s funny, my brother and I played out there by ourselves most days and never had a problem. Again, a different time and we respected the boundaries.
Because of the street ascension, the yard was basically a downward hill at the right of the driveway, which meant the driveway was ground-level on the left side and about 5 inches above ground level on the right side. Again, another danger for hot wheels or bikes (or ankle twisting), but also, you never knew where the basketball would fly if it hit the right side of the driveway. Whether it flew into the neighbor’s yard or down the street, we always went after it, never complained, and just kept on playing. Again, a different time and we appreciated what we had.
The dormer window is an attic floor that was never finished; I would spend nights up there with a lamp and a black and white TV/antenna and pretend to have “my own place” (when it wasn’t roasting or freezing of course). It is such a neat floor to explore. I could spend hours up there going through the various memorabilia from my life. The former owners who sold the house to Mom and Dad in the early 70’s left some newspapers in the attic. One of the newspapers is from November 23, 1963. The headline of course was “JFK ASSASINATED!” I have always wondered if there was a reason they left this, or a sign for my family. I still haven’t figured that one out.
I brought friends to this house, had most of my birthday parties at this house, and celebrated graduations at this house. After moving to Richmond, I even hosted a work picnic at this house. I learned to play music at this house, the Coachmen practiced at this house, and I did CPA work from this house. We held family reunions at this house and visitations after losing loved ones. I know every inch of this house.
I took this picture on December 13, 2015, before heading back to Richmond after a long weekend at home. It is a little more modern and bigger now, but it is still the same house on North Drive.
This is the house that built me.
Until next week,
© Chris Campbell. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.