Letter To The Editor:
It had the feel of a funeral visitation.
My last visit a few years ago hoped to see familiar faces. But this visit on November 10, 2017 occasioned a last viewing of what had been so much a part of our lives decades ago. The familiar Elmhurst High School gymnasium where so many band concerts had been enjoyed, school assemblies had been held, and basketball games watched, provided a meet-and-greet gathering place for the progeny of a proud tradition.
It just had a strong sense of finality.
Those who took advantage of the 2017 Elmhurst tour came to once again walk the halls, to somehow touch our past. And to satisfy a hunger to connect with that past. But no hunger is satisfied, except for a time all too brief.
Since my last of three post-graduation visits to Elmhurst, we lost at least three special teachers we had departed long ago. Our fellowships with Byron Carrier, Richard Poor, and Nicholas Werling ended all too soon.
The last few days of school 48 years ago were exciting as we all anticipated approaching graduation. My only memory was thinking during the final week that this group of fellow students, once released into the world, would never, ever join together again. Fittingly, the words of poet, Robert Frost, were used at the 1969 Elmhurst graduation.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
And so, we all took different roads.
But there we were on November 10, back in surroundings that evoked fondest memories. Several years of an abandoned school complex had left its mark. The band room, choir room, and cafeteria were largely unchanged, and the courtyard to its East — minus one Tommy Trojan statue — looked much as it did when we were students at Elmhurst High. But a metaphor for the remainder of the complex, that courtyard had obviously received no care in years. Sadly, the Elmhurst school had received few visitors during its last seven years. The present had replaced the past in our memories, and Elmhurst had faded and disappeared.
American author, Thomas Wolfe, said, “You can never go home.” The world changes. And so, do we, each in our own way. Someone once made the profound observation that the only constant is change. Elmhurst will soon be gone. In the words of the psalmist, “For the wind passes over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.”
We all have one.
Perhaps revisiting our past is reaching deep inside of ourselves to somehow verify that ours is still there. Different world, but same heart.
Journeys of the heart are like the two roads that diverged in a wood.
They make all the difference.
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