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Sentimental Journey

germantown.jpgGonna take a sentimental journey ... Gonna set my heart at ease ... Gonna make a sentimental journey ... To renew old memories ... ~ lyrics from Sentimental Journey, made famous by Doris Day in 1944

He was whistling along to the 1940's music playing on the car tape player. I was sitting next to him with a video camera in my hand. It took him a few minutes to realize I was taping, and he broke out in a big smile when he did. Although, at the age of 78, he was starting to get lost easily while driving, his body knew the twenty minute drive from his home in Hull to North Quincy, Massachusetts, where he grew up, and he did it without thinking.

After a stop at the cemetery to visit the graves of his parents and most of his ten siblings, we headed to the Germantown housing projects, which were brand new when our family moved there in 1950, the year I was born. My earliest memories of Germantown are sketchy and few because by the time I was four years old we had moved to Hull. I do remember seeing maggots in the fenced in garbage cans in the back yard, and putting a stone in my mouth while playing in the yard and wondering if my mother, who I thought was omnipresent, could see me.clivechwoman2.jpg I swear I remember my father in his Navy uniform and the emptiness that existed when he got shipped out to the Pacific Islands after the war, even though I was not quite three years old when it happened.

From Germantown our Sentimental Journey continued on to the big Victorian house with the round tower that my father grew up in. My eight siblings and I simply called the house "Clive Street," after the street it was on. My memories of Clive Street are plentiful and clear: a wooden spiral staircase; fireplaces; tea at the kitchen table with my Aunt Gertie and Uncle Bernard, my father's two unmarried siblings who inherited the house. It used to be green, the same color my father painted our house in Hull, probably because it made him feel at home. Now it was beige and was well past its glory days.

I was filming with the video camera when a Chinese woman came running out of the Clive Street house shouting at us in Chinese. I tried to explain - pointing to my father in his shorts being held up with suspenders and a WWII Veterans cap on his head - that he had grown up in her house. She didn't calm down until I said the one word that allowed her to understand: REDMAN, our last name. "This was the Redman's house," I was saying when her confrontational manner shifted. redmanfence2.jpg

She motioned to the back yard and gestured for us to follow. As we walked behind her and passed the house, my father and I looked in the windows. Obviously under construction, the house was gutted, cluttered with junk, and papers with Chinese writing on them were strewn all over the floors. It was like a dream sequence turned into a nightmare. I wondered how my father was feeling.

In the backyard she brought us to a chain link fence that bore the name REDMAN. My father explained with tears in his eyes that his older brother Joe had made the sign more than seventy years ago. He graciously posed while I snapped a picture but then abruptly headed back to the car. Once back in the car together, he told me that seeing the house the way it was made him feel sick. clivestreet.jpg Although our sentimental journey was bittersweet, we were both happy to have made it and talked about it fondly for years after.

Post notes: The Sentimental Journey took place a year after my brothers Jim and Dan died and three years before my father passed away. Besides the few sites mentioned above, we also visited my father's high school, the church where he and mother were married, the first house they lived in, and more. This post was written from the Sunday Scribblings prompt "TIME TRAVEL."

Comments

such treasured time together and so important for him in many ways. i am glad you have these wonderful memories.

This was a wonderful read. It's really great to think you had a chance to make that trip with your Dad. My father's childhood home no longer exists, but he spends more and more time back there in his memories.

Your journey left me quiet and still. It's always bittersweet to re-visit your past. Whenever I'm in the midst of doing these trips (physically or even mentally), I find myself trying to sort through it as if I imagined the whole thing. I suspect the older I get, the more "dreams" I will have.

What a wonderful journey to take with your dad.... Im glad you got the chance to do this with him....

It did make me tear up though :) both warm tears and sad tears......

ps.... HAPPY MUVVERS DAY to you......

x

a special memory indeed....

That you have that memory of the day must be wonderful. That was so beautifully told.

You made me tear up this morning, Colleen. I'm glad you took that trip. My dad couldn't visit the home of his childhood, as it didn't exist anymore.

"Sentimental Journey" was one of my favorite songs to play on the piano when I was young. I still have the sheet music.

Outstanding post! Thank your for sharing it. It reminded me of some times spent with my dad (born 1917) just listening to him remember. And the Doris Day reference recalled to mind a time when I was a little kid and sneaked into the living room late at night to see my mom and dad dancing cheek to cheek to Glenn Miller in the darkness. Very comforting for a 3 year old.

Thanks again, for this.

Cheers from Michelle!

I began to think of my dad too as I was reading your post this morning. My fondest memories was picking worms with him so that we could go fishing... until some little girls in my grade one class told me that worms were yucky. ;)

What a wonderful post, Colleen.
Beautiful house seen from here, but obviously nothing compared to the significance it held for your father. Time travelling at the highest emotional charge.

Hi Colleen, what a beautiful post about a special trip for you and your dad. Felt bittersweet for me because I also thought of my dad but we are not close. Anyway, thanks so much for suggesting How The Irish Saved Civilization--I'll try it!

This is a beautiful post about a special trip and your special relationship with your father. I too thank you for suggesting How The Irish Saved Civilization. Oh - and the house is beautiful.

Wouldn't time travel be one of the most exquisite things ever?!

I'm signing up when somebody invents it. :)

We just recently saw that video of Dad and it was so sweet to see him whistle. I didn't realize that Clive street was gutted...I wonder what it looks like today. Maybe we could go there when you come to visit again. Love you and this post. xoxo

Yes, I'd love to. Put that on our list! Did you notice the name REDMAN on the fence in the picture?

Very moving. How wonderful that you got to take that trip with your father...

From generation to generation, we cherish moments and memories like these. How lucky for us that you took this journey with your dad and remembered it so vividly for us.

Congratulations, as well, for penning last week's winning caption. Michele sent me to thank you for all you do to inspire.

Ditto to all of the above.
I'll never forget when my cousin rented a bus for my grandmother's 90th birthday and took everyone on a tour of all of the houses and apartments that my grandmother had lived in. It was so wonderful to hear my aunts and uncles and parents reminiscing with her.
Thanks for sharing this story.

That was a very special memory..and journey. I love the pictures of your daddy too.

How could I not notice the REDMAN on the fence.
I will put that on out list. xo

Very cool! Especially the name in the gate. How much do you think that would cost now?

I don't know. My dad told me something about how his brother made it, maybe related to the place where he worked, but I can't seem to recall what he said and now I can't ask him. It all went by so fast.

So glad you have those memories with you. They stay with us rain or shine, bringing smiles to our lips when there is nothing to smile about... and even when there is. :)

What a great thing to have done even though he didn't like what had happened. May in some way, it made him appreciate how special it was when he was there.
Man, do you ever look like your dad!

(My parents used to play the album, Sentimental Journey, all the time!)

Your dad was such a great guy. I was able to spend many birthdays at Trisha's house and see your dad there always sitting and smiling with happiness watched over his family.

Yes, he was loved by so many for being such character and a fun loving Irishman.

Oh, I love this post Colleen, and I just adore your father...! He was so filled with emotion and cared so much about everything!
What a wonderful thing to do, my dear...This "Sentinental Journey"....I also just love that the Chinese woman's mood changed so when she heard "Redman"....! What a great looking house that is, too, with so much history! I can understand how your father felt seeing it in all pretty much gutted.

What a beautiful post - thank you for sharing this.

i grew up across the street at 22 clive st. i lived there until i got married at age 20, my mother later moved to florida and one of my sisters and her family moved in for a few years, then they too moved to florida and my mom sold the house, i think for $25,000.00
i have alot of wonderful and sad memories of that house, street and neighborhood, but my favorite memory is during the late autumn we would rake all the leaves around and make a huge bonfire in the street. i went back to see the house the summer of 2008, and was disappointed in the way the neighborhood has changed.

I wonder if you lived there when the Redmans still lived at #6. I too remember neighborhood bonfires in the fall.

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