Like many folks of my generation, I tend to see much as it once was, not as it is.
I’m not thinking of a dollar for a nickel Coke or $5 for a 99-cent breakfast. I’m thinking of places, like the little farm I called home when I started first grade at Kickapoo Elementary School (now Walt Disney) in the fall of 1953.
Located less than a mile west of US 160 (Campbell Avenue) on Plainview Road in south Springfield, the site of my former home is lost today in a checkerboard maze of cloned tract houses, with but few differing much from the others.
I can find no sign of the old farm, not even in the natural landscape. As far as I can tell, all evidence of 1953 has been obliterated.
But, in mind’s eye I’m still waiting for the Kickapoo school bus at the end of our short lane, checking my pockets for a fudge sickle nickel and anticipating a school trip to see “Felix the Cat” on stage at Central High School.
In my mind’s eye I see, too, my brother Russell still sitting in my red wagon where I abandoned him halfway to the barn when a snake blocked our path to the barn.
I recall, as well, Dad’s scolding after I “seeded” with roofing nails the plowed field he was tilling with a Jeep, and I painfully relive my mishap on the grassy slope to the house when I employed a crowbar as a walking cane and jammed it into my big toe.
Those any many more memories enrich my vision of our season on Plainview Road, but only in my mind’s eye alone.
Everything I knew of my little bit of the Ozarks then — the MFA “flying bull” farm where my dad worked, the little service station and landmark storage tank at the junction of Rt. M and US 160, the pastoral landscape of dairy farms and verdant pastures north to Sunshine Street — all gone.
They’ve been razed over time to make room for a big library, big-box stores, big eating places, acres of concrete and asphalt, and ever-expanding clusters of tract housing.
They call it progress — more people, more commerce, more housing and more jobs.
I was happier with the agrarian culture of my boyhood, but fear it’s never to be again, other than in my aging mind’s eye.
It’s more comforting to see what was, rather than what is.
Copyright 2023, James E. Hamilton; email firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of his works in Ozarks RFD 2010-2015, available online from Amazon or from the author.
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