I spent most of my childhood growing up in a neighborhood in Painesville, Ohio known as Township Park, so called because it was adjacent to Painesville Township Park. There was another neighborhood to the east on the other side of the woods known as Sunset Point. The two neighborhoods were connected by Lake Road until the road fell into the lake in the late 1960s. Eventually, a new road was built a bit further south to connect the neighborhoods.
A few months ago someone started a Facebook group for people who had lived in the two neighborhoods. It has been a wonderful online place to reconnect with old friends and neighbors and to share nostalgia. People have posted pictures, both recent and old which have stirred up memories. My participation in the group aroused my curiosity and spurred me to visit Township Park this past August. There was a neighborhood reunion in September which I didn’t attend but I’m considering going next year.
There have been a couple of threads about how much the neighborhood has changed. When I visited in August, it looked and felt much different from what I remember of my childhood. I felt as though I was driving through there for the first time in my life.
Today someone started a thread about how much they missed the old Township Park. A cousin commented, “…What isn’t there anymore that I miss is my childhood, my youth and my childhood friends.” I guess my memories and feelings of the Park are much different. My visit in August was the first time I’d been back in close to 35 years and I went back out of curiosity rather than nostalgia. To be honest, I never really missed the old neighborhood after I left in 1973.
I didn’t develop many close friendships in the neighborhood. Mick was my closest friend and our friendship isn’t nearly as close as it once was. From about the fourth grade until I joined the service we were like brothers. In the service, we occasionally crossed paths and since we’ve both retired, we mostly exchange emails. I maintain a loose friendship with the Underwoods. But I really didn’t associate much with most of the neighborhood kids and like most of the people I knew in high school, I pretty much left them behind when I left town.
I don’t really miss my childhood, my youth or my childhood friends. I have memories of all of them but I don’t really attach any emotion to them. They were all part of my life but they’re in the past. I probably only lived in Township Part a total of maybe 15 years. I’ve lived in my current home longer than that. My life in the Park only constitutes about a quarter of my life so far. And it’s true that you can’t go back, I know this from personal experience. Everything changes, nothing remains as you remembered it.
In September, I plan to go back again for the second neighborhood reunion and it will be out of curiosity. Maybe I’ll rekindle some old friendships or become friends with some of those I didn’t get along with back then. Township Park, Sunset Point, Hale Road School, J.R. Williams Junior High and Riverside High School are part of a world I left behind 38 years ago. The neighborhood was a good place to grow up but I probably would have had similar experiences in most any other neighborhood back then. The schools provided me with a good education and friendships. I’m grateful for the experiences but I can’t find any reason to form a strong attachment to them. It’s part of my past, my history and I’ve got other periods of my history too. I’m living in the present. I have memories of the past and it has all in some way shaped who I am today.
No, you can’t go back again. And I, for one, don’t really want to go back.