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Ride with me on my pink Huffy bike through Berlin

Driving through Berlin has given me pause lately. To say that it has been messy making my way through the road improvement project would be a very nice way of putting it.

Weíve needed this upgrade for so many years with tourism peaking and our two-lane road too narrow to breathe in. When it actually started happening though, my anxiety rose several levels, just like it did when the shiny new gas station was built at the edge of town.

Truth be told the anxiety only lasted for several minutes, and it got my memory wheel turning like a tray of slides projecting themselves onto those old-timey screens you could set up in your living room. One by one the pictures abruptly flit across the screen, grainy with time, and I felt a shiver down my spine as times and places inflated my memory banks.

We had one of those projectors that took us back to trips out west, New England campgrounds weíd stayed in, images of long-gone motor homes that housed us, images of blurry faces smiling and laughing, and images of us standing around rock formations that have precariously rested for eons in gravity-defying poses. I welcome change, but like those precariously resting rocks out west, I never wanted to see my town alter its landscape to the point of distortion.

In my mind I get on my pink Huffy bike, the one I received for a long-ago birthday, and rode down through my backyard, Carolís driveway, and onto the back alley. We called it the back alley because it was a little slice of road that cut from Route 62 up to Pigtail Street, a road we zoomed on blissfully with no thought of cars.

I passed Eliís farm, where I would cut through to the small woods I loved to meander and also passed Toothpickís farm, where I was allowed to ride when I was smaller.

I peddled past the trailer court, where I used to zip around until I hit Pigtail Street. I never went down over the water tower hill because how in the world would I get back up? Around the corner I would go and ride through the cemetery, catching the little back road that came out close to the Berlin Dairy, right across from the elementary school.

I headed back uptown and saw a house I spent many good times in with a friend, though now torn down. Stutzmanís car lot is on the right, where I bought my very first car, a blue Mercury Lynx. I learned how to shift as I drove away.

Houses, one of them where I had my first sip of Canei wine and where a clandestine cigarette was once smoked, are now gone.

At the square the old elevator was a place to sit and watch cars go by on hot summer nights, making us sweat while we reapplied our lipstick.

Houses and buildings I once knew hover before me, now gone, as well as the bank where Dad worked; Boyd & Wurthmann Store, where I bought bottles of pop and candy to stick in the basket on my bike; the old fire station, where the Halloween parade started; and the gas station on the corner, where they washed your windows as the gas was pumped.

The Berlin House sat catty-corner from there, and they served the best chicken and jo-jos Iíve ever eaten. My mind turns left down Route 62 and straight to my house once again. Past that was Bunker Hill, nearly unrecognizable now, where I spent many days with good friends.

This is the Berlin I grew up in, slow-paced, where you could still buy a footlong coney and tater tots or have air put in your tires at the Arco station when you filled up, but change is inevitable, so I embrace it along with the smooth, new road that has been paved and cut into our community.

Changing lanes and pedestrian walkways have appeared, and we adjust and take it in. Iíll drive through town and know I can smoothly dip into a turning lane and not have to wait to turn.

Change is good, but just beyond that clear strip of blacktop Iíll always see whatís underneath it, what used to stand beside it. What does it hurt to take a ride in your mind to what once was? I donít pine for it, but Iíll never forget.

Published: August 18, 2016
New Article ID: 2016708189977