You Really Can’t Go Back

End of Oakwood, looking East

Last week I joined the Township Park group on Facebook and got involved in some of the discussion there. I pulled up the old neighborhood on Google maps and in the satellite view, I recognized almost nothing. I had to enter the address to find the location of the old house. What struck me from the aerial view was the amount of erosion that had taken place. I could see both ends of Lake Road, one at the park and the other at Sunset Point and I could picture where the road had once been, connecting those ends. The Google view of the neighborhood did not prepare me for the view from the ground.

This past weekend I made the trip up to Footville and, on the way, made a detour into Painesville to see the old neighborhood. After I got off the freeway, I went down Lindmar Drive to see my grandparents’ old house. I don’t think it’s there any more. The street looked nothing like it did in my youth. Back then it was more open and spacious. Now it seems overgrown with shade trees and the houses are all packed together. I almost wasn’t sure if I was on the right street but the church at the corner of Lindmar and Chestnut told me I was.

Painesville is like an alien world to me now. So much has changed since my youth there. I’ve noticed many changes over the years as I’ve passed through or visited the library. It is not the same city.

I made my way to the neighborhood where I grew up. I wasn’t ready for what I found. The streets had the same names and were laid out the same but that’s all they had in common with my memories. Oakwood Boulevard seemed much shorter, I was at Shady Lane/Kenilworth before I knew it. I found my old address but the house where I grew up and even the garage were gone, replaced by newer, uglier structures. I felt as if all the love and labor my father had put into them was for naught. It was much the same for the whole neighborhood. All that still existed from my youth there were my memories.

Then I ventured to the park. Of course, it had changed too but in a nicer way, at least above the lake. I found that Lake Metroparks had taken it over and expanded the ball fields and built a community center. I walked down the walkway to “the beach,” or rather where there was once a beach. One of the old stone piers is still there but now there are just large blocks of stone placed along the shore in a attempt to hold back the erosion.

After the park, I traced my way back through the neighborhood,then across to Sunset Point which, like Township Park, was eerily dark and unfamiliar. The only familiar structure I saw was Lester’s gas station, still standing but long abandoned. The new developments along Lake Road and Bacon Road seemed bright and cheery in stark contrast to the old neighborhoods they border.

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