I was raised a nomad, a natural byproduct of a father that was enlisted Army and then an office manager for a construction company. I was born in Anchorage Alaska, my brother born two years later in Okinawa and my sister 5 years after that in Maryland.
Before my 26 years in Ohio I've lived in Michigan, Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina (5 places), Louisiana, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island (and somehow I feel like I'm leaving out a place or two). Until junior high we rarely stayed any place much more than a year. Throw in midshipman training tours and two sea tours after graduation from Annapolis and I've been a lot of places in my life.
But some of my strongest family memories are from places I never lived, but only visited. My dad is from a small town in Alabama called Clanton and his father passed away years before I was born. My mother is from an even smaller town in West Virginia called Cass and her mother passed away early in my life, so my memories of my grandparents are pretty much Grandma in Alabama and Grandad in West Virginia. My dad's job never had more than a couple of weeks of vacation a year, and we often didn't live near either grandparent, so most years didn't involve "real" vacations as most people know them, but instead visiting one of the two grandparents.
And those memories are some of my strongest growing up. Long drives with my family, loading up the station wagon with sandwiches in the ice chest, playing license tag games, etch-a-sketches and little handheld pinball games and asking "Are we there yet??" as the miles rolled by.
The memories are packed with sights and smells.
My grandmother used to bake dozens and dozens of pound cakes to sell at the Montgomery Farmer's Market to help make ends meet. I smell a fresh pound cake today and I'm 10 years old again. Alabama was the family reunion at the country church with banana pudding, lemon meringue pie, red velvet cake, fried chicken, mac and cheese, cole slaw and green beans and much more down the concrete tables behind the church. There was no air conditioning in the church, sitting on hard wooden pews and waving those little fans to cool off and never knowing if the preacher was going to go long or short on the sermon, but you knew you'd best behave! It was my uncle visiting in his Navy dress whites and all those tattoos on his arms and chest. It was meals around the table and saying the blessing before eating and Yes Sir, No Sir, Yes Ma'am, No Ma'am and Thank Yous. It was riding on the boat on the lake with my aunt and uncle and going out for a fish dinner and hushpuppies. It was hot and it was red clay that stained your clothes and fireant hills you'd kick and run before they stung you, and it was keeping an eye out for black widow spiders during the Easter Egg hunt. And while I don't have any digital pictures from that time, it would probably be me, my dad and brother all with flattop haircuts :)
Visits to my grandfather's home in West Virginia has its own set of unique memories. The smell of the mountain air in those hollers is unlike anywhere else I've ever been. Rippling streams and rivers burbling over rocky bottoms as you walk into the chilly water and move and stack the rocks and watch for salamanders and crawdads. It was trainrides on the Cass Scenic Railroad up the mountainside riding the tourist cars as the locomotives belched massive clouds of coal smoke out the stacks and that train whistle you'd hear for miles and miles.
Cass was a company town, so it was rows of white clapboard homes and a general store where you could buy pig in a poke candy packs for a dime and wax cigarettes filled with some juicy substance. It was my grandfather's beehives and yes, getting stung sometimes. It was outhouses and pumping water by hand from the well and picking wild strawberries in the fields and riding with my grandfather while he looked for ginseng. It was the huge radio telescopes at Green Bank. It was my grandfather's collections of old glass electrical insulators and antique bottles. It was buttercups and meadow flowers and all kinds of wild animals. It was looking (and sometimes finding) old Mercury dimes in the overstuffed chair out on the front porch. It's the old family homeplace on top of the mountain and just a little further down is the family plot where my grandfather and many of my ancestors are buried. And it's my brother's final resting place too.
So while I never lived in either place for more than a week or two at a time, these places are where memories were made, and isn't that what home is all about?
Need a place to make your own memories in the Cincinnati area? That's what we're here for! Just give us a call at 513-520-5305 or email Liz@LizSpear.com. We look forward to hearing from you!
Serving Warren County Ohio's home sellers and buyers,
Bill of Liz and Bill aka BLiz