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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

MY WEEK IN WILLIAMSTOWN

My first Sunday in New Jersey found me transporting my array of luggage to the home of my great-grandparents who live in the town where I grew up. Since we spent every Friday afternoon at their home for as long as I can remember, my great-grandparents hold an especially dear place in my heart. Nestled in an acre and a half of rich, green grass and towering, old trees the white farmhouse looked so warm and inviting as I pulled into the driveway. At long last, I was back.

Visiting old family friends, former neighbors, and extended family filled my days for the most part during my stay in Williamstown. One day found me walking around the block where our former home stands, just as I used to. Dropping by my favorite haunt, the town library, I greeted all the "library ladies," some of whom I’ve known since possessing my first library card at the ripe old age of five. A visit to our next-door neighbor saw me sipping tea and chatting about neighborhood happenings. Geets Diner, a "famous" landmark in town still looks the same I noticed while enjoying an evening snack there with a friend. The only time I felt like an out-of-towner was when requesting the non-smoking section of the diner only to be informed that, according to New Jersey law, all of the restaurants were now completely non-smoking. Oh well, one can’t keep up with every new, New Jersey law.

During my Williamstown stay, I reveled in the hours spent with my great-grandparents. One day, MomMom patiently shared about our family history as far back as she could remember while I jotted down names and little tidbits of information about the men and women who comprised the two generations before her. What a privilege it was to sit and listen to stories about her parents and grandparents, all born in the 19th Century, while curled upon her couch in the 21st Century.

Encouraged by the admonition in "The League of Grateful Sons," I asked my great-grandfather about some of his experiences serving on the U.S.S. Boise during World War II. He told of his job hoisting 120 lb shells up to be loaded into the big guns during battle, and how in one fight, two of their turrets were hit by the enemy killing all inside those compartments. Although the events occurred over sixty years ago he told the stories as if they happened just yesterday. I suppose after one has been in the heat of a deadly battle they never forget the horror of those moments.

Saying goodbye once again to my great-grandparents proved very challenging especially as they are in the process of selling their home. I walked around the property and snapped pictures of my favorite tree, the horses next door, and the grounds we used to run and play in as children. Goodbyes don’t seem to get any easier, even with practice.

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