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Jack Miller’s Mid-Missouri Memories – Walking and Talking

Walking
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One day not long ago, as I was driving through Sedalia, I saw three young boys walking along the street laughing and playing. It reminded me of my days as a boy on the east side of Sedalia, walking the same streets with my friends. Sometime we would just walk and talk about things like our favorite movie, or hero or some other thing that had caught our interest since our last walk and talk. Sometime we would play catch or some other game as we walked along, but you can be sure that didn’t slow down our talking.

As I watched those three boys, one of them playfully punched one of the other boys on the arm, the way I had done more times than I can count as a boy. A chase ensued until the boy who was punched was able to return the favor, only harder, then the boys resumed their walk. As I drove by them, I could hear their laughter. It was the light carefree laughter of youth, a simple sound with out stress we seem to lose after we pass some later stage of life.

As I drove on, I felt a pang of envy that it wasn’t me and my friends walking along that street again. I smiled then, because those boys had given me back a precious moment from my past, which after all, is why I drive down the streets I grew up in from time to time.

It doesn’t always work, but sometime something like those boys will come along to take me back to those days when my friends and I made our memories in the old neighborhood. The houses I lived in back then have long since been torn down, and even the buildings that sat at the alley, which included a drafty old outhouse, are gone. In fact, Fifth Street between Emmitt Avenue and New York Avenue has only a fraction of the houses it had when I was a boy.

I lived in houses at 1631 and 1629 on East 5th Street, and after I joined the Navy, mom and sis moved to a house. A man named Andy Burlingame owned a house on the corner of 5th and New York that was also torn down not long ago. This could be a problem because I count on landmarks to inspire the Mid-Missouri Memories I write, but those landmarks are slowly disappearing from Sedalia, making me search harder for that inspiration. I guess as long as I can see kids doing what my friends and I did all those years ago, I will never run completely out of inspiration.

When I think about it, the easiest memories for me to access have nothing to do with homes or other places in Sedalia, but rather have to do with me with my friends doing what those boys were doing, just walking and talking as we horsed around with each other. When those memories come to me like they did as I watched those boys the other day, I feel for a brief moment like I am that carefree boy again chasing a friend who had just punched me in the arm.

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