I hope this note finds you well.
With all due respect I beg to differ with Thomas Wolfe and his phrase; “you can never go home again.” My contention is: you can never really leave.
Recently my sisters and I came together in our hometown of Augusta, Arkansas for a reunion during the Augusta Days Festival. Many of our old school classmates and a couple of our teachers were in attendance.
As a part of the Festival on Saturday morning they held a one-mile walk followed by a 5-K run. I made the decision to get up early and do the walk and run. It was a small event with only a few participants. With very little ceremony we started the walk and I soon realized that everyone walking was related. We made a loop around the downtown and got back to the starting line just in time for the 5-K.
The 5-K race began on Third Street, the main north-south street of Augusta, in front of what was Laura Conner High School. The building is long since gone but not the memories of sitting on the front steps of the three-story brick school, playing basketball in the old WPA gym and going to the library. Heading north we passed the Methodist Church and the First Baptist Church, our church home as a child and a center of social life in the community. The other mainstay on Third Street is the old turn-of-the-century courthouse where my mother worked when I was a child.
We turned onto Spruce Street and came near the home I grew up in. Soon we turned into the graveyard, making a loop around the edges, in the process passing the graves of my mother and father. We exited the graveyard and ran in front of the old grade school where my grandfather worked as the janitor.
The race course then looped over to 2nd street where we headed south toward downtown; a two block strip of old buildings that housed the Lura theater, the bank, the mercantile, the drug store, the shoe shop, the barber shop and the Legion Hut. The center of downtown Augusta is dominated by the White River. In the past, no visit to Augusta was complete without a visit to the river and Pauline’s fish dock.
The last five blocks we ran passed the library and a street that has always contained several of the old elegant homes of Augusta. There were several families sitting on the porches waving and children in the yards playing in makeshift showers.
Even though many of the places have changed, and some of the building are gone, it really hasn’t changed that much. I felt like a little kid slowly making my way up and down the streets of my home on a nice spring morning.
After the race was over I was standing on the street talking to a couple of friends and an older man came up to me. He said, “I don’t know who you are but I know you are a Taggart. You look like a Taggart. Which side of the family are you from?” I laughed, told him I was the son of Sam Taggart. “I thought so. I used to work with your dad.”
Have a good journey.