Wednesday, January 11, 2006


In my hometown, West Grand Ave proceeded grandly westward as its name implied. Up until the 70's sometime, it ended in a graceful S curve blending into West Center Street. Center Street proceeded out of town, past the street to my house, past the creek and corn fields until it T'd with Wycles Road. The great plan was to eventually extend Grand westward and meet up with Center Street at the foot of the hill down from my house. Although that would have been interesting, it really served no purpose. The planned development of the Community College on W. Center never came to fruition, so the plan languished and now is apparently forgotten. The only vestige of this plan is the 2-3 block extension that now T's with Home Park Ave, the S curve now partially gone.

To make this extension they had to demolish Jimmy Edwards' house. When the S curve existed, if you went straight you'd enter a gravel lane that led to an old, rundown and somewhat spooky house mostly hidden by a tangle of trees and weeds. Poor Jimmy. I wonder what became of him? A strange fellow he was. And sad I am sure. Jimmy was thrust into our middle class grade school world of vacations, second cars, 2.5 kids and a dog on a cul-de-sac. Jimmy's lot was different it seemed. I don't know of anyone whoever went to his house. We were afraid to. It had to be dirty, or at least haunted. We were sure his parents (or whoever took care of him) were decidedly beneath us and likely evil.

Jimmy yearned to be a part of us. He longed to be "normal". I remember he was always trying to impress us, using his active, escapist imagination to concoct anew and more fanciful tales. He excused his falling asleep in class once because he had been up late. "My brother took me to Paris in his Rolls Royce". We all tittered with childish laughter as Jimmy looked annoyed and bewildered. Jimmy, although he new about Paris, (yes France, he said, not the Paris in Illinois) and Rolls Royces, failed to remember that one could not drive to Paris in France not in Illinois. I wonder if in reality his drunk father had been beating and kicking his mother or was bailed out of jail....

Jimmy struggled mightily to be like us and to be liked by us. Looking back nearly 40 (!) years, I realize this now. The me of today would have reached out to him, but the me of then rejected him like the others. He invited me one day after school to go to his house and make Santa Clauses. I declined, fearing I'd be mugged or shot or.....something.

Jimmy, I wonder where you are. And I am sorry how I treated you. Is it too late to be friends?

No comments: