While it’s the first time in a hundred years that someone from my family hasn’t lived on our road, my wife and I felt it was time to explore and find a new home.
I just moved from Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania about a month ago. I lived there for 62 years. My dad, Harris, lived there his whole life. His dad, Carson, lived there most of his life. My great-granddad, Luke, built the house my family and I lived in the last 15 years. Our family homestead was purchased in 1910. My children were the 7th generation of Walsh’s raised on our land.
It’s is the first time in over one hundred years that a Walsh hasn’t lived on Papermill Road. I love my hometown, couldn’t of been happier living anywhere else. When I was a kid, the milkman use to wake me up walking through my bedroom to get to the kitchen to put the milk in the refrigerator. When I would make a phone call, you’d pickup the phone and have to give the operator the phone number you wanted to call. She was my neighbor, who just died a few years ago.
My wife of 38 years, Betsy, and I moved, but not because we were unhappy in Huntingdon Valley — quite the opposite. But as the years passed by, we always wondered what it would be like to live somewhere else. Betsy also lived on Papermill Road from the age of five. We moved away from the school of which my mom, dad, brother and sisters, cousins, nephews and nieces and I all graduated.
We left family, friends, and jobs we loved and moved. Just like that. Just because we wanted to see what it would be like living someplace else. And we live in Albany, New York now.
And I already miss Huntingdon Valley so much. I miss walking by familiar ground that makes me remember my dearly departed family and friends. I miss walking by the field my grandpop, Carson, use to plow with horses. He came walking home one day with just the reins in his hand. While he was plowing, the horses were stuck by lightening and killed. I miss driving by The Methodist Church and seeing the stained glass window it has in memory of my mother, who died when I was 12 years old. I miss dropping by my sisters house and watching television with her. I miss my best friend Paul. I miss seeing old school buddies. I miss the pond on the old homestead, it is a dear friend indeed. I miss all my friends and acquaintances; I knew so many people after 62 years.
And I miss the stories that people who knew my descendants would tell me. The stories that make up some of the history of Huntingdon Valley. My second cousin, Myrtle’s, dad use to be the Highway and Park Supervisor for Lower Moreland Township, the local municipality. Myrtle became the Township Manager in the fifties and my dad took over the job her father had with the township. Together, they helped transform a rural community into a thriving suburb during the sixties building boom.
Many community members still have memories and stories to tell of my family members. One of my favorite ones is when my dad had a confrontation with a House of Representative member who lived in our town while the Highway Department was blacktopping the street she lived on. The workers were trimming back a bush that was growing out to the street. She came out and told the workers that if they touch her bush that she would have their jobs. A worker radioed back to my Dad the problem they were having and he told them to stop what they were doing until he got there. He arrived with a bulldozer in tow and proceeded to not only remove the bush, but all her bushes and the wall from which they were growing.
So many stories I’ll miss people telling me. And I know I’ll never know my new town as well as my hometown.
But like everything in life, the only thing that stays with me remains in my heart.
And my heart belongs to my hometown forever.
Photo credit: Flickr/Nicholas_T