Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A week ago today

A week ago today we were very tired, and when I called the hospital to see how Mom's night went, Dad said they would be coming home before the day was out. I know that hospitals can take a very long time and that lunch time would be the earliest she would be home, and early to late evening could also be a very real possibility. Dad didn't want us to drive back to B'ham and told us not to come. So we did something I've wanted to do for a long time but have never had the time to do when "go home". I visited what was "home" to me. And it was good, and it was heartbreaking.
 The town of Cordova is slowly rebounding from the two tornadoes that devastated the area six years ago. There's a new town hall, a new fire station, as well as several other changes. But the picture above is one of the views that absolutely made me gasp. The parking lot where I took the photo is from the Cordova Free Will Baptist Church, where my Dad pastored. For the 14 years I lived there, the only thing you could see from this spot was trees. The brick building to the left (part of the Methodist Church) was not visible, and is across Green Ave. The white building with blue awnings is down the hill and halfway across what used to be downtown. It would not have even been visible from the Methodist parking lot when I was growing up. Its location is the old hardware store my uncle managed, but is now the new Piggly Wiggly (aka "The Pig"), the town's new and only grocery store. (The old store was at the base of the hill and was damaged by the tornadoes. 3 of the 4 people who died were in that area.) And the white houses in the distance? That's clear across the railroad tracks, not far from the post office. Had I not known where I was, I don't think I'd have recognized my little mill town. It reminded me of all those small towns you pass through in the mountains. I so wish there was a before picture to show you just how stark the difference is.
 The parsonage front view from Green Ave. It has a different roof from when I lived there, and the two trees are cut down from the front yard. I loved those trees only because they offered shade when cutting grass. But the growth of trees and shrubs in places they shouldn't be (there's two sets of steps not visible here), and the crawl space door is totally gone. The house looks abandoned. I know the church is all but gone and they don't have a preacher, but with so many people needing homes I would have thought they'd have at least rented it out.
 And the view from the back side, but is/was used as the main entrance. Left is the garage and washer/dryer hook-ups, the indented area is a screened in porch. First three windows is the kitchen area, next two was the den (sometimes used by us a bedroom), the next double windows were a small bedroom, then the last two windows goes to the larger bedroom which my sisters and I all shared at various points.

 The screen door is missing to the porch. And our family put up the basketball goal, though this is not the one we installed. And another shocking view to the left of the house...used to be solid trees. Driving down Green Ave was always like driving through a canopy of greenery in the spring. It looked like a forest across the road.

Several houses have burned in the neighborhood or simply been neglected. It was so sad to see. So many good and happy memories from that little part of town.

But it was nice to have a few hours to drive around and show Bobby where I went to school and places that he's heard stories about but never seen. And I now understand how Mom's generation who lived there when the mill was open and the mines were running full force would shake their head during my youth and talk about how the town used to look. I fear in 20 years there may not be a town unless things change.

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