You Really Can’t Go Home Again
Grafton, Illinois, is where I spent a portion of my childhood, from ages 6 through 13. Actually, my family lived on a rugged, rural piece of land just north of the town, but Grafton was where I went to school, played sports and generally called my hometown during those years.
Grafton is located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. "The Meeting Of The Great Rivers," has officially become part of the town's description.
As we drove down Main Street, I was amazed by how much the town was almost completely different from the one that I grew up in. Certainly, the flood waters - especially in 1993 played a huge part in changing the town. Almost all of the residential homes located on the banks before the flood, were destroyed. This prompted citizens to make a conscious choice to rebuild most homes in a planned area, on top of the surrounding bluffs.
Now, the downtown area is almost completely slanted toward tourists. Kayak tours, Native American art, and zip line tours were just a few of the many things I saw advertised. The school that I attended for many years - completely gone and replaced by a winery and condominiums. The grocery store - Bill's Market - nothing but an empty shell now.
I was trying to explain to my daughter where things were located when I was a kid, that no longer exist. The field, where I took the ball in for two touchdowns that game? now used for parking. The house and barns where I lived? demolished and now all grown back to "natural state," and part of the state parks system.
The trip was a good one, but how I wished that my daughter could have been able to see the town through my older eyes; the places where me and my friends played and the best place to catch the most air for those Evel Knievel jumps on our bikes.
Time moves on for all of us, and I suppose towns too. Grafton has adapted to survive and thrive through the years.
That's a lesson, I suppose, that all of us could learn from.