By Jonathan Wright
There’s something very reassuring about going back to the town where you grew up. Regardless of how much has changed, there’s always enough that hasn’t changed to give you a sense of comfort in the belief it really hasn’t been that long since you were a kid.
That’s what I would like to think at least.
For many years I lived far, far away from Huntington, the city of my birth. When I was only 16 our family moved to Florida. Then I attended college in Oklahoma. Afterward I began teaching in Florida, then in Georgia.
In 1984 I moved back to my native West Virginia. It’s always been great to be less than three hours from Huntington. Although I usually don’t get there more than once or twice a year, I always know it’s an easy drive and that I can travel there and back in the same day.
That’s what I did with my two sons, Ben and Zach, last Saturday. We had a tight schedule, and thus our stay was short—but it was fun. We had a wonderful lunch with my niece and then visited our incomparable Aunt Geraldine.
Following our family visits, we spent a little time at the Marshall-Old Miss game at the awesome Marshall stadium with 20,000 others.
Then in no time we were back on I-64 for the jaunt back home.
All the time we were driving around Huntington, my mind was whirling with memories of countless trips around town with my parents and siblings during my growing-up years decades ago. Although many landmarks have now been replaced with other structures, it was immensely comforting to see numerous homes, businesses, and churches looking just the way I remember them decades ago.
To have my own two sons with me, to share with them places that were an important part of my childhood, was absolutely priceless.
Huntington is a large, spread-out city compared to Lewisburg, of course, so there’s a lot of it to see. We enjoyed only a fraction of it during our short visit last Saturday, but it was enough to reassure me that all is still well in Huntington.
Although the economy may not be as unrestrained as it used to be in its heyday, when its population reached an impressive 85,000, Huntington is still alive and well and serving newer generations with some incredible services in the midst of the matchless beauty of the Ohio River and the surrounding rugged terrain. Additionally, our trip just happened to coincide with the tail end of the fall foliage season, and the trees were nothing less than stunning.
Author Thomas Wolfe’s famous words “You can’t go home again” are, of course, true in many ways—but I can’t help believing that it is nonetheless possible somehow to re-live a portion of your life by simply going back and looking around the places where you used to live.
Fortunately, for me those were largely positive memories—and Huntington was a significant part of them.