Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Running Back in Time - Southeast Texas

I recently took a short trip to my hometown in Texas.  I needed to get in my long run so I decided to explore some of the places where I grew up.  As a young kid I knew we did not have much but we always made the best of things.  My first stop was 6th Avenue, in Port Arthur.  This is the first house I can remember living in.  The key word being remember.  Today it is just an empty lot.  Things I can remember are The DelaRosa family next door, playing with matches under the house, and my first game of spin the bottle.  Next stop was Sam Houston Elementary. Of course I had to run a lap around the recess field.  My time at Sam Houston was probably my earliest memory of running.  I remember a kid who ran around the field every day throughout recess.  I wonder if he still runs today?  Then I ran couple blocks to my grandmother's house.  There are so many memories here,  it's hard to decide what to list.  The zip line in the back yard, the old attic fan that created a hot breeze though the window, working on low rider cars with my uncles.  The house still looks the same just slightly different landscaping.  Next came the tears, I don't know why but they just started flowing.  Seeing these neighborhoods in slums, some of my friends today would be afraid to go to an area like this.  There were cars on blocks, litter all over the school grounds, and white crosses everywhere.

Next, I headed over to the mid town area.  I decided to visit my mother's grave.   The cemetery is very large but I easily maneuvered my way through.  The odd thing was the signs everywhere saying no gaming in the cemetery.  I guess the pokemon game is big in the area.  There was nothing emotional at the cemetery, but I took some pictures of Mom's grave
as well as my Nonny's & Poppy's.  There was a man sitting in a truck nearby.  I wondered if he was going report me for gaming in the cemetery?  I tried to go out a different way and took a wrong turn.  This led me to the Asian burial grounds.  I think they spend whatever money they have left on their grave site.  Some of them looked like rooms.  There was a guy out there laying granite floor tiles at one.  Personally I would rather be cremated, then spread my ashes in the woods where I love to run. Or maybe donate my body to science and study what a lifetime of running and eating unhealthy has done to me.  Really, it's not unhealthy, it's just good food.  I still think after they finished studying me, I would like to be in the woods. Sorry I digressed a little.   Now off to Groves where there are more white crosses everywhere.

Groves is the small town  where the second house I remember living.   I could not help but notice the improvement in the way the houses looked.  I guess when we moved to Groves we where middle class, the houses were nicer and the s school district was one of the best in the area.   I don't go back home often,  so I had to figure out how to get to my old house from where I was.  I knew the general direction and it was supposed to be a long run, so I was not that concerned about getting lost.  During my search to the house I found Groves Middle School.  This was the best part of my whole run.  The pavilion I played kick the can under brought back memories even though the school was totally remodeled.  As I was reminiscing, there it was, the track I ran my first race on...it was still there...still the original cinder track

with the little rusty metal building next to it.  I could not help but to sprint a lap around.  It felt fast but I know it was slow.  I can remember spending summer recreation in this area.  Riding my bike over to swim, run and play basketball.  I ran over to the baseball field where I played little league. 

Boy did I suck, I was probably the worst kid on the best team.  All I was good at was bunting and running.  I made my way over to Carolina St., for those of you that don't know, this was the house that burned down when I was in high school.  My mother died there a couple years before, so I am kind of glad the house is gone.  Again this is a period of my childhood where there are so many memories.  Moak's Meat Market, where I used to play and watch them slaughter the animals, the elderly neighbors, that always took me under their wing and talked for days on end, the girl that ran away from home and hid in the woods for a couple of nights.  My pets, Keynes the dog, rabbits including Othello that lived in the house until he took a chuck out of the kitchen table, chickens, ducks and turtle.  There were other pets  too.  The trees around the new house looked the same, I can remember climbing high up into one and just swaying in the wind.  Mindi, my sister flipping the go cart when she was out of sight and us thinking is she ever coming back.  Running around barefoot and coming home with tar on my feet from where it bubbled up out of the street in the summers.  Probably the most important lesson I learned in life was at this house.  When you buy the flexible pipe to fix the gas leak always buy the Teflon tape that goes with it.  Either that or don't have a dog that likes to chew on things.  Some mistakes you only make once.  At least I did not burn the house down in Port Arthur when I was playing with matches underneath it.  I joke about it, but I don't blame myself, the leak had been going on for several days and we left the garage open to let it air out.  At least there were gun shells in the garage that woke me up in the middle of the night.  By the time the fire alarm went off in the house I had already woke my dad but it was too late. 

All in all it was a pretty good run.  It's not uncommon to go through various emotions on a long run, but it's not that often that you get to go back in time.  I have to say running on that track was the highlight of my trip to Texas.  There have been times I went home and went to PNG, the high school I graduated from, to run on the track but it wasn't the same.  The track is rubber now and everything around it has been updated for the better.   Did I mention that I saw crosses everywhere?  In Alabama you see them where people have died in an accident or at certain times of year in celebration.  They were everywhere, in the flower beds, up against the house, at the edge of the road.  I asked relatives what it was about and it turns out a group tried to have a cross removed from Port Neches Park due to separation of church and state.  The city sold a small piece of land to one of the local churches so that they no longer owned it.  To show support for the cross some of the churches gave away crosses to homeowners.  Now there are thousands of crosses all over the Golden Triangle area.  You can read more here

Thanks for spending a few minutes of your time reliving my memories with me.
After thought...My wife made fun of me for playing kick the can as a kid.  She thought that was a game from another generation.