Seven hundred and sixty two feet from corner to corner. From the huge old elm tree in Dr. Rooney’s front yard on one end, to the lamppost that sat outside my bedroom window on the other. That’s how long the street that I grew up on is.
So what you ask. It really is irrelevant isn’t it? Well maybe. At least it was until the day when I went back and visited the old neighborhood after an absence of many years. That’s when I realized how much shorter it had gotten while I was away. Time was when I would walk up to Washington Street on the opposite end from where I lived and look back, and it was a very long way. If I ran from end to end, I would be huffing and puffing by the time I collapsed on my front porch.
Sitting catty corner across the street from where I lived was the Lincoln Elementary School, surrounded by fields that ran uninterrupted the length of the street. Only the Noonan’s house broke the symmetry, sitting there in solitary defiance halfway down the street. I never did know why it was there, but suspect it had something to do with the Noonan’s getting there first.
Today the school is a nursing home, but everything else is still as it was, except of course, the fields too have grown smaller, and the Noonan house isn’t at all as large as it used to be.
I had a paper route back then. It encompassed several blocks of my neighborhood, with my dad being the last one to get his paper. It took most of the afternoon to deliver my route, given the distance and all. I wish it had been as small then as it is today.
Anyway, that was a long time ago. I left for the military right after high school. I remember waiting for the bus next to that old elm tree in Dr. Rooney’s yard. My folks moved to another part of town shortly after that, so I never did go back. Occasions to visit the town at all were few over the years. It was my dads funeral that finally brought me back for a few days.
Funny how much larger the world seems to a boy. Once distant destinations no longer are. California seems to be a lot closer to Boston then it once was, and when did Canada become just a few hours north of here. I guess, looking back, that I shouldn’t be surprised after all that my street ended up being so much shorter then it used to be. Small world, isn’t it?