March 23, 2013

View From The Backyard

View From The Backyard
By John R. Greenwood

This is a story about going back home.

The Greenfield Town Hall 2013 
I was standing in the shadow of the Town Hall where I purchased my first hunting license and where my wife and I  filed our marriage license. That license has held up well for some 38 years. 

Today I was there to meet with Greenfield Town Historian, Ron Feulner.  We had talked on the phone a few days prior when Ron called to ask if I would contribute some family photos to a collection the Greenfield Historical Society was putting together. Ron ran across a few vintage photos of my mothers family farm I had posted online. He thought they would be a nice addition to the towns project.
The one time home of my aunt and uncle.
It is now the Town Community Center. 

My aunt and uncle, Ann and Steve Pasek, once owned the home that sits adjacent to the Town Hall. When the town purchased the home from my aunt and uncle they converted it into the town Community Center. My aunt and my mother Helen were sisters. When my sister Joanne and I were young  we lived in a small apartment on one side of the home for a short time. My family then moved two houses north on Rt.#9n where the Blodgetts now live.

My family home in Greenfield Center from 1957-1964 
Standing on the porch of one house you can see the front porch of the other. I lived there in the  center of the village for the first nine years of my life. In 1964 my parents purchased a larger home and land about one mile south of the village on Rt. #9n. 

In the years between 1955 and 1964 my life was spent in backyards up and down 9n, Wilton Rd, South Greenfield Rd, Grange Rd, and beyond. It is now some fifty years later and as I stood in the parking lot between the Community Center and the Greenfield Town Hall I was instantly transported back in time. It was as if I had been placed in a time machine and sent back to 196?. As I looked north I could see the Blodgett's house where I grew up; the place where I learned to ride my bike on the dirt path out front. That path once worn smooth from everyone's trips to the Greenfield General Store on the corner. 
Hodges Carpenter Shop 
From this spot I could see George Hodges carpenter shop. George Sr. was a friend of my fathers. He would let my father use his shop. I have a gun cabinet my father built there nights after work. I could smell the fresh saw dust. Mr. Hodges also had a greenhouse attached to the back of the shop. Standing there the smell of fresh tomato plants came back in a flash. The greenhouse was always brimming with plush green vegetables. The warm earth mustiness swelled my lungs. I could taste the freshness of those homegrown vegetables like it was yesterday. Looking southwest I could see the small field between the old Cline and Shay homes. The field where fall football games and summer softball games were played. I swear I could hear the sound of a home run being smacked into the high grass beyond the white fence that once graced the yards back edge.  

The one time Greenfield General Store
The center of this viewpoint was the building that used to be the Greenfield General Store. It  anchored the village for generations. It was the epicenter of all things small town and country. The line of Greenfield residents that have passed by that store with fond memories would stretch for miles. The stories of that store could fill a book and someday may. For now I will simply stand here and savor the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up in a place that gave me a sense of place. 

Things change and time moves on whether we like it or not. It's sad but inevitable. Our ancestors faced it and now it is our turn to reminisce with fondness and sometimes sadness. But, for today, from this backyard where I stand, things look as they were. A vintage movie clip- click, click, clicking along. Image after image of a simpler time passes before my eyes.

I see boys on bikes headed for their cabin in the woods. I hear Shay's dog Shep barking at us as we leave. I catch a glimpse of our old tomcat Spooky who when we moved to our home a mile below the village would take off into the woods and return here to the center of town where his roots were. He came back where he could slink up and down the backyard stonewalls chasing unsuspecting field mice as they scurried in and out of the mossy rocks and slanted barn foundations. 

If I tilt my head I can hear mom calling me home for meatloaf and homegrown potatoes. I adjust the Ace of Diamonds in the spokes of my bike and pedal home, up the dirt path. 

Yes, life looked better from the backyard today. Thanks Greenfield for sharing your backyards, your generous *Paul Davis waves of hello, and most of all thanks for providing enough fond memories to last a lifetime. 

Your friend and neighbor,
John R. Greenwood

Paul Davis was my friend Randy's father. Paul's right to left hand waves were crisp and deliberate--hand slightly tilted,  fingers spread wide, they shouted, "Glad to see you" better than words ever could...    


  1. My thoughts, and places remembered with so much fondness and "sense of place", echo yours in almost every way. As your big sister, we grew up in the homes you spoke of here, and, just like you, each time I drive past the Town Hall, the field next to the old Cline House, and the "Old Store", I see them as they were then, back in the 50's and 60's. I agree it was a VERY good place to spend a childhood. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

  2. Anyone reading this post that grew up in a small town like yours is surely casting similar memories in their head as they read your post -- at least I am. I, too, was grounded in a landscape like yours in the Midwest. I have not been there for over twenty years. Your post makes me think that maybe I should visit my childhood town but then again last time I was there it was being swallowed into a large metro area. Maybe sometimes it is best to keep the memories alive in your head and not visit the mega changes that have taken place. Love this post! -- barbara

  3. What a wonderful and happy childhood you must have had there, John, in simpler and happier times. I love all of your photos and rememberings..........those were the days! Always lovely to take a trip back....

  4. I enjoyed reading this so much ... I loved your blog.

  5. This post is an "Ace of Diamonds"! Love the nostalgia. It triggers many memories of my old neighborhood...which these days is a whole lot of memories. Diane

  6. I am a new follower to your inspiring post. After reading the "View from the backyard" you brought me back home some 50 years ago to a time when I lived in Detroit when it was a booming metropolis and everyone had jobs. My childhood was filled with a sense of adventure where I could step out of the house each day and find new things to enjoy. Like when the neighborhodd kids and I gathered to hike or ride our bikes we always found something to fill our need to explore. Thoughts are flashing back to me now remembering one day where Tommy climbed the billboard sign and clinged to the top announcing to the world that he was on top of the world and brave and to be respected. I remember that everyone had a front porch where you could always find someone rocking in their chairs watching the kids playing football catch or tennis in the street. Yes, the front porch was the place where there was always a lot of conversation...things like who got married, who graduated from high school and who didn't come home from the Army and got that dreadful knock on the door telling that their son wasn't coming back. You could smell the cooking coming from the back kitchen and who made cookies to be shared with every kid. I know that I am rambling on a bit, but I am filled with a new energy having found your post. Thank You!!
    Mary Ann Herzog
    We had a little grocery store where my mom sent me to buy bread and milk and vegetbles.

  7. I love this, John. Love the story, the photos.......and I admire the stability of having grown up in a small town, and still live there now - and that the basics havent changed too drastically. It looks and sounds wonderful. A good life. Thanks for sharing it.....