Carvan Letter

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 27, 2009

Being old is a strange thing. Seems everything seen through the eyes is superimposed over memories of  bygone days. I drive through the downtown area of Batesville, I see myself with Mother in the Piggly- Wiggly store on the Square.

Watermelons for sale out of the backs of 1940 pickup trucks under the trees in the old Square. I remember mules and wagons parked between the Square and the railroad track where they could “parallel park.” Mostly I remember the difficulty finding a parking place anywhere on the Square on Saturday afternoon.

Mother was born and grew up in the Teasdale community. I drive those roads today and I see little or no evidence of the people who lived and died there. Where I remember houses and kinfolk there is now just brush and trees. Where I remember cotton and corn patches, now there is just kudzu.

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Overgrown land is everywhere I look. Old home sites are not even identifiable. Where have they all gone? Where is the country in which I grew up? What happened to all the little towns and communities that made this country special?

This is not to say life back then was easy. It wasn’t! Our lives today are luxurious compared even to “rich people” of those days. But somewhere along the way we’ve lost something worth far more than what we gained. A sense of community. A feeling of responsibility for our neighbor, not necessarily because we liked him but simply because he was our neighbor.

And I miss it terribly.

Wendell Carvan,