austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

You take the home from the boy

One of the little side trips last week of driving my parents to the airport last week was he had a stopover in the old neighborhood for my mother's hair appointment. She still goes to the same hairdresser she's used for years -- the sister of my barber, which isn't quite coincidental; my barber's shop was budded off of the old place, with the women's hair care staying where it was and the men's hair care going much closer to the shore. But since there wasn't much to do as a visitor if you weren't getting your hair done besides note how clear the family relationship between my mother's hair dresser and my barber is (and I say that as a person who can only dimly recognize faces) and try to figure whether the shop's cat is very sleepy or just a plush doll, my father and I went to breakfast and drove around the old neighborhood.

Among the things we determined were that my old neighborhood looks in rather good shape. Our old house has been aluminum-sided in an unfortunate choice of blue, close enough to Smurf blue as to evoke jokes while not being close enough for these jokes to be correct. The neighboring house which had the front lawn replaced with a rock garden still has the rock garden there, possibly because this is one of those changes that's really hard to go back on. Besides the trees being roughly twenty years taller on average the major differences are the miniature satellite dishes on television sets, and there seem to be more Chinese (or Japanese or Korean or so) families along the block. It was always a very multicultural block, although I admit you had to go to the next street over before meeting an Asian Indian family.

My father thought my elementary school was smaller than he remembered. I had been trying to revise my mental estimate of how big it was down, so that I was surprisingly close to the right feel for how it should be. I did, however, remember the walking distance if you didn't take the shortcut through the woods as being longer than it was, though. And the one house on an imposing hill which was great if you were willing to walk your bike up the driveway and then ride it down the slope to speed up to about warp twenty turns out to be less a thousand-foot pinnacle and more a maybe four-foot-tall slope.

Trivia: On the first return trip from Albany to New York City for his steamship, Robert Fulton found only two passengers willing to pay the $7 fare. Source: An Empire of Wealth, John Steele Gordon.

Currently Reading: The People: No Different Flesh, Zenna Henderson.


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