Goin’ Home Again – Thanks For Being My Bridge To The Past!
By John Donovan ‘66
(Thoughts of 35 year class reunion)

    I firmly believe "to every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose unto heaven" Ecclesiastes].  So, I had to wonder after some of you encouraged me to attend the class reunion and resurrect so many unconsciously suppressed classmate memories; "Can I really go home again?".  The answer was not clear until I left on Sunday, with the "little ol' D" bridge in the rearview mirror.

   Joe, Rene and I crossed the bridge on Friday, and there it was, "little ol' D".  A quick tour along "43" and it was clear that little had visibly changed from our ol' high school days, the town had merely aged.  However, the physical aging of buildings was perhaps a superficial measure of what really remained.  Soon good thoughts seemed to multiply by the moment, those high school memories of good friends and so many good times. 

    As dinnertime approached, I knew we were "goin' home again", awakening the sleepy memories in the recesses of our minds with the classmates of '66 on the damp, worn, wooden planks of the basin pier.  So many mutual reflections, and even the small talk, indicated the genuine interest, the bond, was still alive and well 35 years later, as we conversed classmate-to-classmate, friend-to-friend for hours.   The bad news was that the "ol' town had not really changed" yet the good news was that the "ol' people had not really changed". 

    The "long tour" on Saturday morning with Joe further verified that the ol' town had not really changed, with but a few interesting exceptions.  The churches were bigger and more plentiful in the Bible-belt town.  The schools and the ball fields were bigger and more plentiful.  This is good.  I asked our young, 20-something waiter at lunch; "What are the attractions now days?".  Honestly, the answer was; "Well, there is Bluff Hall, and lots of new churches, and new restaurants!".  Joe and I smiled and quickly remembered why we had left the 'little D" back in '66.  We watched the barges slowly pass the basin as we prayed over the great food at the new restaurant, and only momentarily wondered where Bluff Hall was.  We drove by the ol' girl friends' houses.  We drove to the new school and threw a basket or two.  We looked for "our markers in sports and life" but the trophies that had given us identity and a sense of pride must have been retired.  When we protested, the DHS coach simply said, "Bring on the new!". We knew she was right. Our past really is OLD.  We went to the state park to visit the campsites of ol' and the ol' make-out spots for weekly "kiss and tell".  We went to the Lock and found it locked.  We went to the lower pool and captured perhaps the most powerful view of the "little D"; fishermen at the base of the lock and dam, patiently awaiting "the catch of the day", as thousands of gallons of water fell in front of them.  Caldwell's landing was gone but the memories were shared between us anyway.  Webb's cotton gin and sawmill were gone but the memories were shared, again.  The bad news was that the "ol' town was still very, very boring", and yet, the good news was that “we filled the boredom in much the same way” as we had over 35 years ago.  We had not really changed.

    Saturday night live, and we were all there.  Sharing memories and making new ones, as "The "New Larry" Comedy Hour" kept us uncontrollably rolling off the Larkin's porch.  Perhaps we did not really know the "real" Larry H. so long ago.  The smell of barbecue, a doe walking gently around the crowd, the soothing conversation of ol' friends, the hugs and smiles, camera flashes, the steady roar of laughter and exciting football lasted for hours.  The place was different from 35 years ago but we had not really changed.

     Sunday morning after breakfast with my oldest, best, good friend, and the "little ol' D" bridge behind me, I adjusted the rearview mirror and finally began to put it all in perspective.  I had been "home again".  Steinbeck would say, "Home is where you ought not to deserve" but I disagree.  We all deserve a "home", at least in our minds.  I think; "Home is wherever good memories are made with good friends".  So, we just need good friends, our bridge to the past, whenever we want to be "goin' home again".  Thanks to all of you for being my bridge. 

You are in my dreams, in my heart and in my memories forever.  May God Bless!

Have Fun....  John D.

PS - To: Gray, Diane, Mary Rita, Betty Jo, Linda S., Bill, Nonie, Barbara, Ken, Ted, Gayle, Gawen, Daisy, Joe&Rene, Pete, Glenda, Larry, Mike Mc, Patricia, Jerry, Elizabeth, Carol, Floyd and Marvin....  Thanks For The Memories!  Look forward to "Goin' Home Again" at the next reunion!!!