I recently visited my hometown in New Jersey (also Bruce Springsteen’s hometown). Often during my visits, my sister-friends and I go into New York, but we did not do so this time because of the Pope’s visit.
The saying “You can’t go home again” (title of a book by Thomas Wolfe, 1900-1938) is true only to a point. Although most of the old folks that I knew as a child have passed on, there are still enough childhood friends that remain to make a visit home emotionally fulfilling and pleasant.
Physically, the town has not changed very much. The big houses on Main Street still look the same, although many of them now house offices instead of individual families. The fire station is in the same place and continues to blow its whistle at 12:15 p.m.
My visit home was mainly to exhibit my art at the Court Street School Educational Community Center Centennial Celebration. The school was located on a hill in a black neighborhood and was originally the school for black students from kindergarten to eighth grade.
I attended Court Street School only as a kindergartner, because the school was closed the next year when schools were integrated. I then attended an integrated school much closer to my home.
Among the friends and family members attending the Centennial Celebration was a teacher who had taught the combined second and third grades at the school before integration. Also attending was a longtime resident who is now 102 years old.
Along with the art I displayed on the walls were some stories I’d written for the RoundTable about hometown folks. I put some stories on a table for attendees to read as well as a book in which attendees could make comments.
I cannot express how fulfilling it was to hear and read the positive comments about my art and writings.
My homefolk very much enjoyed my art depicting African Americans and landscapes and reading about people they had known.
They were also glad that lines from poetry by Paul Laurence Dunbar (African American writer, 1872-1906) were included in some of my stories.
I will always treasure being with my hometown folks and their comments. Their hugs and best wishes assured me that I can always go home again.