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September 22, 2021

Mack Williams: Stroll down memory lane yields stroller

I recently visited my friends, Charlie and Pam, who live in my boyhood home on the Old Concord Road.
Among their many improvements, Charlie is now utilizing the old, replaced porch slate on the inside of the house, raising it to countertop level, much too nice to walk upon now. Some slate is becoming a backyard walkway. Stones on which I took my first steps, are now ětaking stepsî into the yard, away from where they were once statically cemented.
As Charlie and I walked out back, he picked up a little toy man emerging from a buried refuse pile, but the toy was of a family preceeding Charlie and Pam, and following me. My old discarded toys are deeper, taking much longer to regain the sunlight.
Near the woods, we walked over an old, consolidated ash pile littered with bits of unburned coal. This was where my family dumped the ashes from our coal stoves.
Having temporarily forgotten the exiting ashes, but remembering the coal lugged in, the coalís weight was evidently more memorable than the slightness of the ash. These ashes have been patted down by innumerable raindrops over many years, plus flattened by the constant application of the force of gravity for an equal amount of time. Charlie and I stood there, solemnly looking down at the ěashes of my youth.î
If, in some other additional improvements, Charlie decides to cover up the old ash mound, I will ask him to save a memento for me in a ziploc bag.
If he writes my name on that clear ziploc bag of ashes as a reminder, I will ask him to please not leave it where it can be viewed by visiting friends, else a wrong assumption may be made.
Wrapped around a tree, we found a piece of the wire of the old hog lot, only enough now left to wrap one good-sized hog, much less provide a home for its walking and wallowing.
I visited my old neighbor across the road, Wayne Cline. Back then, playing children would drink the Clineís well water from a metal cup in their back yard. Despite its metal, that water tasted mountain fresh.
The cup is no longer there, and the nail of its hanging is now bent flush with the wood into which it was driven. Wayne took over his fatherís gravel business, which his son now operates. What were once two or three piles of gravel and sand, have become a mini mountain range of sand, gravel, bark, monstrously-sized cobbles, and so on.
In recrossing the road, I saw an oncoming car, but decided not to attempt to beat it. After having fondly written about the Old Concord Road, to have been struck dead by a vehicle while crossing it would have seemed like an end much too calculated.
Charlie showed me my old baby strollerís remains in the back woods. Once, black-cloth covered, its frame now resembled rusty-brown tree branches amid leaves of young oak seedlings.
Despite its rusty, arthritic stiffness, Charlie and Pam managed to wedge this mega-memento into the carís back seat. The stroller is now only a skeleton, a skeleton whose flesh once consisted of cloth.
Driving up U.S. 29 North with my ěbarebonesî baby carriage, I realized that I was carrying something that had once carried me.
The car was also carrying me, but in the case of the car, as opposed to that of the old stroller, it was I who was doing the steering.

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