Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Old Haunts and New

Being around a bunch of people I hadn't seen in a long time yesterday at Grandma's funeral, I started missing Troy quite a bit. Feeling a bit nostalgic anyway, I decided to just cruise around town while I was there, visiting some memories from the past. Here are some of the highlights.

First off, I was part of the funeral procession and went to the cemetery for a brief graveside service. Troy is an interesting place, in that I wouldn't exactly call it a small town (population > 20,000), but it really does have a small-town feel to it. It's a community. Driving through Riverside cemetery, I saw a lot of names I recognized. Not that I knew the people personally, but I recognized the family names, just through growing up in Troy, going to high school there, and keeping up with local news even now that I live elsewhere. I found it pretty interesting. Sometime when I'm home for a weekend, perhaps this spring, I think I'd like to take a walk through the cemetery and just look around at the names on the markers.

The post-funeral lunch gathering was held at a church in Tipp City. That particular town happens to be home to Spring Hill Nurseries, which is where I used to be employed. I decided to drive by and check it out. The garden center was in full swing. The parking lot was full, and the store seemed to be doing a brisk business. They're probably doing a lot of shipping right now, getting bulbs and plants out so people can plant them for this fall. The building where our Merchandising Department was located, though, was not so prosperous. It's vacant and up for sale, and I'd be surprised if it's been used since SHN went out of business. Sad, but not entirely unexpected.

When I came back into Troy, one of the first places I drove past was Troy Memorial Stadium, where the Trojans play on Friday nights during the fall. I never miss an opportunity to visit the stadium when I'm in town. I love Troy football, and the stadium holds lots of good memories for me. It's undergone some significant renovation in the past year, and I'm still getting used to the new look. I started going to Troy games with Rachel when she was in high school and I was in junior high. I haven't missed a Trojan home game since 1991, when I was a freshman in high school. That's where my love of football began. I've taken plenty of friends there with me, and I've gone to plenty of games by myself. I love being there.

Directly across the street from the stadium is Troy High School itself, from which I graduated in 1995. It doesn't seem like I spent only four years there, or that it was over almost nine years ago. I still have a pretty fair number of friends from high school. I have a lot of memories there as well. Not all of them are good, of course, but I would say the vast majority of them are. I know very few people who can say this, but if I was given the opportunity to go back to high school, I would do it in a heartbeat.

Essentially next door to the stadium is Hobart Arena. The THS hockey team plays there now, and it's also where graduation ceremonies are held. I spent a lot of time there when I was younger, as Troy used to be home to a semi-professional hockey team (the Troy Sabres, who later became the Miami Valley Sabres). Uncle Clarence and Aunt Lou would always take Rachel and me to the games. My favorite player was #77, Bernie Chivarelli (I'm sure I spelled that wrong). The games were a blast. The THS hockey coach is Rick Szabo, and he was the Sabres' goalie. I like going to the high school games now when I can. Just being in the arena and experiencing the way sights, sounds, and smells of hockey bring back a lot. The arena, like the stadium, has undergone quite a lot of renovation, but the heart of it is still the same. I'm glad to report that "The Pissing Man" is still there. On top of the arena, above the entryway, there is a small structure that looks, in profile, like a man taking a leak. I can't explain it, but it's there. It was pointed out to me by a classmate on the bus on the way home from junior high one day, and now I can't drive by the arena without looking for it.

In the same neck of the woods is the house where Uncle Clarence, Aunt Lou, and Rachel used to live. I spent a lot of time there as a kid, so I drove by to check it out. I almost didn't recognize it, to be honest. One of the houses next door is now gone. The house itself has been re-sided. The garage behind the house is still blue, though, and the driveway is still lined with stone. I always had a lot of fun there when I was younger. Since I was in the neighborhood, I drove by Grandma's old house as well. It looked the same as it always has, except I'm pretty sure there's a different fence around the yard now.

From there, I drove through Duke Park, where I had my first job, working the concession stand for softball games during the summer after I graduated from high school. That was a decent job, for the most part. My main complaint was just dealing with kids whose parents were too occupied to pay them much mind. Other than that, it was fun. I was outside in the summer, but not out in the sun. I got to watch some softball, and often I knew some of the people playing. I got all the pop, candy, and hot dogs I could handle. Also, the boss didn't mind if I had friends join me, so I often did. I really like being at the park. It's one of my favorite places in Troy.

After that I headed over to Troy's west side, where there are a lot of changes being made. After immersing myself in the past for a while, I wanted to go over there and see some new stuff, some of the progress that's happening. Our local Wal-Mart is becoming a Super Wal-Mart, and I wanted to see the construction and what it was doing to the rest of the plaza. I was dismayed to see that the plaza's bookstore, Little Professor, was no longer there. Otherwise, not much was changed. There are some new apartment buildings going up behind Wal-Mart, so I went that way to check them out, and I discovered that Little Professor had put up their own building and was now housed back there as well. The opportunity to check out a new bookstore was too much for me to pass up, so I went inside. I was immediately faced with a book called Schoolboy Trojans, which seems to pertain to Troy football in the 50s. I picked that up, of course, and I'm excited to read it. I'm sure I'll be writing about it in detail at a later date, once I've finished it.

There was a time, when those apartment buildings were first announced, that I could see myself looking there for housing. While that's still a possibility on some level, I think that by the time I could possibly be ready to move back to Troy, I would be looking for an actual house. And I can't say with any type of certainty that a move to Troy is forthcoming at any point in the future, as I've also grown quite fond of Bowling Green. At this point, though, I have to say that it's a possibility.

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