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Jack’s Mid Missouri Memories: Triggering a Memory

As I have written before, there are certain things that can trigger memories. One of those things for me is driving through the old neighborhood I grew up in. I did that a few days ago, and it brought forth a lot of memories. This time the memories came from an old brick house that stood on the corner of 5th and New York. I say stood, because it has been demolished and was just a pile of bricks with its broken roof resting precariously on top of them.

The home when I was a boy was one of the better houses on the block and was owned by one of the few people in the neighborhood who had any money. His name was Andy Burlingame, and he was kind of a hero to the boys in the neighborhood. He was an independent business man who worked out of his vehicle and always had money and a new car. None of us knew for sure what business he was in, but whatever it was, he successful as far as we could tell. As for us kids, we had him being everything from an international spy to a gangster. Both options were equally romantic to our young minds. When we got older we found Andy was still a very interesting person, but we still were not quite sure how he made a living. We did, however, always consider him a friend.

Andy and his wife are not the real reason I have memories of the old house. My mother and sister rented the house after I went in the Navy. I have pictures of mom, sis and I inside and outside that house during some very happy times when I was home on leave.

A strong memory of our time in that house came to me when Dick Clark of “American Bandstand” died. It is the same memory that comes when I hear Conway Twitty sing “It’s Only Make Believe.” The memory is of me waking up on the first day of a leave from my ship the USS Hawkins in 1957. Conway was singing that song on “Bandstand,” and my sister thought that would be a good way to wake me up since I was sleeping on a hide-a-bed in the living room right next to the television.

I still remember lying there listening, but I also recall basking in the glow of the knowledge that I had two full weeks of freedom to spend with friends and family, and of course girls, who hopefully would be impressed by the navy guy.

It was actually the same feeling I remember when waking up that first morning of summer vacations when school was finally out, and I knew I had three months of running barefoot and wild with my friends. What a feeling, and what a memory. So many things have disappeared since that day in 1957, and now even the house where the memory began is gone. Fortunately, that is not where the memory lived, and I still have that Conway Twitty Song I can listen to trigger the memory.

I will miss that old house whenever I drive by, just as I do the ones on the other corner where other memories were made all those years ago. The house, mom, and sis along with all my friends from those days including Andy Burlingame, will be remembered as long as I live, and hopefully for awhile after that by those who read my Mid-Missouri Memories.

Tune in to Jack Miller on Newstalk 1050 KSIS every Monday morning to hear excerpts from his book of Mid-Missouri memories, titled ‘Unhurried Days.’

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