Having an emotional day--my last day in the town of my birth--as I prepare to leave for home in the morning. I haven't been back to Princeton in awhile and things have changed. At my great aunt's funeral this week, I found out that one of her two surviving siblings has a controlling share of my great grandfather's farm. His plans are to demolish the age-old farmhouse and reconstruct a new one on the site. Many of my relatives and I wish that he'd just restore Grandpa Dunning's homeplace, so that we can continue to reminisce every October at the Dunning reunion held on that property.
Besides my uncle's plans to alter this family icon and place of so many childhood memories for me, the entire area is undergoing change. Many farms have sold their mineral rights to a strip mining company who is raping the land for it's rich coal. For those not familiar with this type of mining, it pretty much destroys the landscape. So instead of green fields of corn and beans as far as the eye can see, there are mounds of dirt, clay and coal within a mile of my family's farm.
Adding to my melancholy, many of the town's old homes and buildings have been let go or simply demolished due to lack of funds or interest in historic preservation. In fact, the McConnell home downtown where I first learned to tie my shoelaces is no longer there. That took me by surprise during an early morning walk on Friday. The town square looks ratty...hardly the proper backdrop to a classic courthouse that is one of the few historic places being adequately maintained.
I wish I had unlimited funds to purchase the family farm from my great uncle and do something to help boost the local economy, preserve more of the town's rich history and relocate back in the place my grandparents all called home (and several generations before that on mom's side).
Call it nostalgia or whatever, but I've got this pull back to my roots that I can't explain. If only I could afford to move back here....more on this topic once I get the pictures that I took today developed (didn't bring my digital camera with me like I shoulda)...