Thursday, August 19, 2010

Digging up memories

Last week, as mentioned here, the Daily Yonder published an article on hometown Danville with Rob Friedman's photographs and some supporting text written here. Subsequently I e-mailed the story to numerous friends and acquaintances with a Danville connection. Responses received have been poignant, with memories ranging from a nostalgic longing, to an appreciation for what once was, to an attitude of benign good riddance. Danville's plight today elicited marginally hopeful support or a degree of despair when it comes to the city's prospects.

Today I was talking to a business acquaintance and Danville area resident in her mid-thirties who is doing some accounting work related to my father's estate. She had received the DY post and as an aside mentioned that it was interesting. In a short exchange it was clear that she did not relate at all to the feelings that some in my age group had expressed. She had come of age in the late 1980's and early 90's and I realized that the Danville of today was much much closer to the one she had always known than to the "ancient" history of the relatively active city that manifested itself from the late 1800's until perhaps the early 1970's. Her timeline of memories and sense of historical context were different from that of the photographer and the writer.

This evening I came across the following in an exceptional new book, "Memory Wall" by Anthony Doerr.

"We return to the places we're from; we trample faded corners and pencil in new lines...You bury your childhood here and there. It waits for you, all your life, to come back and dig it up."

A recurring theme in this book is that one's final death is when all those who knew you as a child, those once alive or preserved in memory, have passed on. Does this apply, with longer timelines, to cities as well.


Post a Comment

<< Home