Sunday, August 5, 2018

Montoursville 2018: A foreword on a journey mixing the past and present

Instagram photo by me

On Friday, July 13, of this year I used one of my rare off days to drive 116 miles north so that I could spend the morning and afternoon walking around my childhood hometown of Montoursville, Pennsylvania. I've made this trip several times before, usually with others, since I moved back to Pennsylvania from South Carolina in 2000. Past visits typically involved 90 percent driving slowly around town and 10 percent (or less) walking around. This time, I parked my car in the lot of the downtown Rite Aid mid-morning and didn't return to it until more than 30,000 Fitbit steps later, having spent the day criss-crossing the residential streets, school neighborhoods, and more.

I have an obsession about and a strong love for Montoursville. It's almost entirely due, of course, to how old I was when I lived there — from age 1 to age 7½ (1971 to mid-1978) and again from age 10 to age 12½ (late 1980 to mid-1983). That's a significant chunk of one's young life, and we moved away for good right before I became a teenager [ominous jungle drums] and would have started experiencing the small town in ways that are, as we all know from our own adolesence, so very different from childhood. So my nostalgia for Montoursville is framed by a very specific, and more innocent, period of my life. It's a kind of Proustian trap that I readily acknowledge and embrace. I see it as a gift.

Before July 13, I already had a couple of fresh Montoursville-themed ideas on my Papergreat to-write list. After spending a sunny day there, I had accumulated another half-dozen ideas, most of them unrelated to each other beyond their mutual setting.

So ... I'm going to do a series here on Papergreat: Call it Montoursville 2018.

I suspect many of you will find it narcissistic, overly sentimental, ponderous and entirely nonessential reading. You would be correct in that assessment. I'm writing these mostly for me.

It will definitely be a freeform series, with a lot of bouncing around, personal recollections and odd tangents. Parts of it will likely resemble the "Snapshot & Memories" posts. Even a freeform series, though, has to have some structure. And my OCD will not allow me to forgo planning. So this "foreword" is also serving as an opportunity to get my arms around Montoursville 2018, set out some goals and see if we can't keep this thing contained to August. #BloggerGoals

The posts in this series might look something like this:

  • Preface: A day around town
  • Introduction: Madame Montour, Otstonwakin and Montoursville
  • Dr. W.B. Konkle Memorial Library (and Ruth Manning-Sanders)
  • Childhood schools and memories
  • Three houses we lived in
  • Late lunch at Cellini's
  • Other sites, including the TWA Flight 800 Memorial
  • Hurr's and neighborhood ice cream shops
  • Old postcards and things that have vanished (including restaurants and the pool)
  • Miscellaneous photographs and musings
  • Afterword

The order and contents of the posts are subject to change. And some topics might be split over multiple posts. Plus, I'm sure I'm already forgetting something and/or will find another rabbit hole to tumble down, taking y'all along with me.

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