Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Stranger in a Strange Land Once Home ; Good Morning

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Stranger in a Strange Land Once Home ; Good Morning

Article excerpt

PORTALES, New Mexico - The prairie air was chilly, and the springtime wind was gusty and petulant, as it often was a long time ago when I was young. But the morning sky, if you raised your eyes above the smudged horizon, was a deep, incredible blue, as it always seems to be. Strangers almost invariably comment upon the sky here and take particular pains with the light settings on their cameras.

Driving the car I'd borrowed for the day from my uncle, I reached the city limits of Portales, the little town that was my home before I set off, confident and woefully misinformed, to make my fortune.

Nothing looked familiar anymore, and the one-way streets confused me. I made a slow pass through town, amazed at how everything had shrunk and faded.

Why, I can remember a time when the courthouse, sparkling new, was the grandest building I ever expected to see. So large it was sort of scary just walking up the steps.

But now it is just another aging courthouse with little to distinguish it from those in other little towns.

I noticed on one downtown street that weeds were growing boldly up between cracks in the sidewalk, and buildings that once housed great activity now stood vacant.

The last feature long since has ended at the old Yam Theatre, and Mrs. Bracken no longer serves the huge 5-cent hamburgers that I remember with such gustatory delight.

Using the newspaper office as a landmark, I found the road that leads to the farm we once owned, and as I drove along it I saw the tiny house where my Granny lived, dedicating her life and creativity to the baking of apple pies.

The old porch, sagging and long since innocent of paint, runs across the front of the house, and how many times I cannot say I have sat out there in a creaking cane-bottomed chair, waiting for Granny's pies to cool.

My Granny has slept for a quarter of a century in the windswept cemetery just out of town, her tiny, gnarled body at last free of the constant pain that racked it.

Granny always insisted we have another piece of pie, and we always did - even when we weren't hungry. …

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