On a weekend day with no specific plans we decided to take a drive through our old neighborhood.
It was ten years ago that we lived there. We stayed in that neighborhood for thirty-one years, raised our three children, and then did what the vernacular refers to as “downsizing.”
As we drove through the old neighborhood I was struck by the number of memories that swept through my mind just by looking at houses we passed.
Here’s our old house; and there’s the field with the apple trees. Remember all the years we hosted apple picking parties? Friends were so delighted to grab the paper shopping bags we distributed and pick apples from our trees, which produced several different varieties. The apples were smaller than commercially grown ones, but the varieties we grew were a mystery. The trees were already in place when we bought the house, and we never thought to ask the previous owners to identify them.
I fondly remember the screened in porch, and eating summer meals out there surrounded by stately hemlock trees.The trees blocked out the sound of cars passing on the road in front of the house and offered shade to our private, peaceful place.
The hills on the property provided wonderful sledding grounds for the children in snowy weather. And our Old English Sheepdogs loved snow frolicking along with the children.
Thresholds of the family room in our house reveal signs of the puppy-teething stages of the dogs that we raised here.
The pool provided many afternoons of summer relaxation and a destination for class parties at the end of school semesters.
Goose Bumps! I still feel horrified when we come to this intersection. This is where that terrible car accident happened one snowy winter day many years ago. Dr. Lassiter’s brother was killed in that crash. That part of the road had a brutal curve, and speeding there on slippery nights led to several serious accidents.
Further down the road was the Little Red Schoolhouse. I still can’t believe that many years ago, all the children in the neighborhood learned their lessons in that one room school. It amazes me to think that one teacher taught children from ages six to seventeen in one single room. She must have been incredibly organized and very patient. Those were the days of the American Revolution; the neighborhood is called “Washington Valley” and is proud of its history, including that Little Red Schoolhouse.
About a half mile from the schoolhouse on Washington Valley Road is The Seeing Eye; an institute dedicated to helping the blind. The Seeing Eye trains puppies to become lead dogs for the blind. Handicapped people from around the country and around the world stay at the Seeing Eye while training to work with their prospective seeing-eye dogs. Throughout Morristown every day are trainers teaching blind clients to learn managing dogs that the cli will be counting on to lead them safely as they walk through the streets.
The Seeing Eye is a source of great pride in the community. People who would like to own a pet can apply for a dog that is trained but not accepted into the program. There is a five year wait list to receive one of those professionally trained dogs.
The corner house belonged to a lovely family: in fact, they were the first ones to invite us to their home when we were new to the neighborhood. Then a bitter divorce destroyed and disassembled them. Their sons went on to open a group of famous restaurants called “Blue Hill,” that was reviewed by many restaurant reviewers, and was universally praised. A cook book followed, and their reputation was sealed. The patriarch of the family, when he became ill with Parkinson’s Disease, requested that at his funeral, his sons host a celebration of his life, complete with food from their restaurants, jazz music, and joy to celebrate his life: a life well lived.
Then we drove by the house across the street from our old house that earned headlines in newspapers because of a tragic crime committed there. Sidney Reso, the vice president of Exxon who headed Exxon operations outside North America, was kidnapped from his home and driven to the secluded Pine Barrens while the kidnappers awaited their ransom demand of $18.5 million dollars. I turn cold as I remember FBI agents ringing our doorbell, asking questions that might lead to the kidnappers. Mr. Reso died out there, alone in the Pine Barrens. The husband/wife team who kidnapped him are each serving life sentences.
Driving through the old neighborhood and remembering both the happy times and the sad ones, made me realize that all throughout life we experience both uplifting and heartbreaking times. The Chinese Yin and Yang principle: good and evil; happiness and tears; youth and old age, are principles that we live with through time. We must be conscious of these elements of life; cherish the good times and be strong through difficult ones. It has always been true, and will likely always remain that way.
So I wish you all Good Times and a Glorious 2020!