Back in August of 2016 I penned a column titled, “It’s really true; you can’t go home again.” In it, I wrote about the day I arrived home after three years spent in Air Force blue, including a year spent in far away Iceland.
I was filled with joy that day as I waved goodbye to an Air Force buddy who dropped me off in New London on his way home to another small Connecticut town. As soon I had hugged Mom and Pop I jumped on the telephone, smiling as I looked forward to hearing the voices of my old friends.
Sadly, out of 11 people who had been close friends during six years of school, not one of them was still there in New London. Without exception, every one of them was either gone off to college, or was just plain gone.
Not to be defeated, and determined to find someone that was still there in New London, I went for a walk downtown. The first place I stopped in was the very popular chain store where I had worked before my Air National Guard outfit was called up for the Korean War. Not only were both the manager and the assistant manager gone, but not one of the other four men I had worked with was still there.
When I mentioned to the new manager that I had been involuntarily called onto active duty, he greeted me cheerfully, took my name, and told me my job was open any time I was ready to come back to work. That was nice, and I thanked him for it, but I continued on my trek through town, and that was one very disturbing day.
To begin with, as I headed downtown along Bank Street, one of the main streets of town, the buildings looked lower and older. In fact, some of them looked a bit rundown; and as I reached State Street, the main street of town, I spotted four different places where good friends — now gone — had once worked.
In the end, I trudged back home, realizing for the first time in my life that what made a town a “hometown” was not houses, and schools, and streets; it was people, the people we know and care about; and most importantly our childhood friends. It was a hard truth to face; and after struggling with it for two years I reenlisted in the Air Force even though I had worked my way up to assistant manager and they were digging the foundation of a new store across the river, which was to have been mine.
As I said about the Air Force in that original column, “The names were new, but the bases and the men were very much alike.”
Since then, happily, I have discovered a new facet of that sense of “going home,” and I now realize that all of us owe a sincere thanks to an occasional business here and there. As I am sure you know, there is an occasional business in a new town that makes you feel right at home. The Safeway store here in Payson is one of those; so is our Ace Hardware. And back at the end of this May I learned something really new: Even a business located many miles away can increase that “hometown” feeling by making the entire area, or perhaps even the whole state feel more like home.
So, if you need a computer repair, try Fast Fix Computer Repair down in Mesa. I did, and am I glad I did! Here’s a link: https://fastfixcomputerrepair.com/