Train, Train

Posted: August 21, 2007 in Family, History

We’ve been in our house for 6 1/2 years and have been feeling this itch to leave for something newer, bigger and better for about 6 of those. Circumstances – also known as bad decisions graciously permitted by Providence – have disallowed a move and I now have a very disconcerting notion to stay longer than we must. I want to make our house OUR home, to sow at least a small seed of who we are into it. Part of that is my desire to be different than i’ve ever been and actually complete something. Part of it is to, in the process, figure out what that seed might look like once cultivated. 

A friend of mine turned me onto a book by James Kibler called Our Father’s Fields. I haven’t read it, but heard the author read one chapter. In it Kibler tells the story of the family who once lived in the house he and his family now occupy. I can’t tell you everything it says b/c I haven’t read any of it, but it is awakening in me a desire to reach back and grab hold of the past more, or maybe let it gain a better grip on me. I’d like to know the history of my family. I’d like to own some land in the place where I was born and raised and where my folks still live even though they are divorced. When asked if I would ever want to move back to my hometown, or why I didn’t visit more, I would always say, “I lived there for 18 years, that’s plenty.” I’m not saying I want to move back there, but there is something to be said for “staying”. In the chapter I heard Kibler read, Chapter 14, he recounts the musings of one of the descendant of the slave family attached to that house on the merits of trains: “Trains takes people away and often times don’t bring dem back.” I bought into the modernistic mentality of leaving, all the while singing with Blackfoot, “Train, Train, take me on out of this town.” Now I want to get back, not necessarily to that town, but to that mentality of our father’s fathers. The grass may already be greener somewhere else, but wouldn’t it be great to work to cultivate the grass we have now, even it stays brown for the rest of our lives? I think that green pastures acquired by relocating probably don’t develop as much character as the brown ones anyway. But, it’s hard to get back. I think the old slave descendent was right. Trains can’t bring you back. There must be another way. Let me know if you find it. . .I’ll do the same.

  1. Derek says:

    I understand the yearning brother. New Orleans has a hold on me because of the history of the place and its unique character. I don’t believe I will ever live there again but it will always be home. One of my fondest trips back was when Christy and I took the kids to see my old house. My old neighbor saw us taking a picture of it and (out of protection for his new neighbor) asked if he could help. After reintroducing myself and my family, Mr. Frank Musso invited us in his home. He and Mrs. Pat still had their children’s toys for their grandchildren to play with. We stayed for close to two hours. It was great to see my children playing with my childhood friend’s toys. Most of my neighbors still live on that street. I know folks outside of New Orleans look askant at those who remain after Katrina. They simply do not understand the hold of the place, how deep folks roots go, or the fact that people just don’t want to leave.

    When we were in Ireland and when I had visited Bradenstoke in England, this sense of permanence and history went ballistic. It is hard not to meet with fierce frustration while longing for that kind of life. Our disposable, materialistic culture simply has forgotten how to remember. We have to keep the economy going you know.

  2. Ammons says:

    I began an account on and have been researching the history of my family. It has been cool to find out the names and histories of some of my ancestors. One of them is John Thomas Ammons, who ran with Francis Marion during the Revolutionary War. Pretty cool. Maybe that’s why i love South Carolina so much.

  3. Russell says:

    What a great thing to read tonight for me. As you know, Gabrielle and I have been seriously considering leaving Atlanta for a new start, and yet this is home to me. Not just Atlanta, but Dunwoody. Lord willing we may never leave…

    The house we bought belonged to a couple who lived here for 31 years. The were the first owners, raised 3 children here. I have found little things they left behind in the corners and cracks of the place…little memories of a three-decade tenure in one place. I wouldn’t mind the same thing…to look at a room and remember the kids doing this or that over there. To see a mark on the wall and know who made it. To have some deep roots from, as you say, cultivation of the grass we have now.

    I have not lived this way yet, but now may be the time to start…

  4. Pemberton says:

    I’ve always been the same way. Being from Macon, GA , people always would ask me “Would you ever go back there?” My response was always “NO WAY” and not for any reason other than to see my Dad for a brief time.

    But, many memories of my life growing up are there. The Church I grew up in, my old neighborhood, my high school, and places I used to work. I’m thinking that embracing my past is something to consider more. Moving back to Macon is not something I necessarily want to do, but spending more time there might help me remember more of those good memories from growing up.

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