Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fading Memories and Watercolor Dreams

A creek runs through the area where I live and trees, ferns and creepers grow thickly around it. As I walked past it today, I had to step around a tree that had fallen across the sidewalk. Long dead, it had shattered when it hit the cement. One protruding branch looked like an arm, extended, perhaps, in a last attempt to break its fall.

The fallen tree reminded me of the bony remains of an old man. It also reminded me of an email I got from longtime friend and fellow North Caddo High graduate Clarice White Stephenson. Clarice grew up in Oil City, ten miles down the road from Vivian. She asked me if I remembered something. She has a poetic gift with words and this is part of her query:

“I dreamed about "old" Oil City last night, in particular the Chester Hotel that used to sit next to the Ford dealership. It was on the way home from school on the rare occasions my mother allowed me to walk with a friend. The unpainted frame hotel was never open while I remember it. It sat on the east side of the "old highway" and railroad tracks, and there were usually old men sitting on wooden benches under the porch overhang.”

I do not remember the old hotel so I asked my Aunt Dot. Her husband Bert grew up in Oil City, his parents the owners of the Pourteau Hotel and CafĂ©. She didn’t remember the Chester either but reminded me of the proximity of Bert’s hotel to the train tracks. The same track continued through Vivian, Myrtis, Rodessa and Bloomberg, and there were similar train tracks that ran through Belcher and Hosston.

These little Louisiana towns are only ghosts of what they once were - no longer the boomtowns that king cotton and big oil built. Some vestiges, like the fallen tree across the sidewalk, remain but many of the buildings and people that populated them are now little more than a close friend’s fading memories and watercolor dreams.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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