We would be driving back south for a kayaking trip near Lake City, Fla. and would be passing by the old stomping grounds of my internship in Macon, Ga. Since leaving the Macon hospital some 50 years ago, I wondered what things might have still been around in the town I had spent a year in. we had enough time in our schedule to make a quick visit, so I ask Siri, our Google map IT guide, to find our old address. Between Linda and Siri, I preferred the high-tech directions I could understand and were rarely wrong.
In my mind, I could see us biking through the neighborhood, remembering one thing after another so that all of the old memories would be stimulated, and my life from years ago would magically come to life again. But on this occasion, Siri let me down. She, or should I say it, led me to the middle of a low-rent, run-down housing project with names of streets not sounding anywhere close to my old address. I kept looking around for a familiar landmark and couldn't find one. Maybe they had torn down all the old buildings to put in the housing project, I thought.
In frustration I gave up the search for my house and looked for a flat road to do some bicycling. We found a nice flat road that had very little traffic in the industrial side of town near a railroad track. As I biked, I tried to reconstruct the town from my memory. After all, I had gone from my home to the hospital every day for a year, and now I couldn't even find the hospital. I was sure of my home address because I could still hear in my mind the preacher announcing the new location to the church members where I would be attending.
I gave up the memory searching long enough to look at some roadside flowers and identify some birds. In our travels we had crossed a railroad track, which gave me some comfort because it was a landmark I could recognize on my way back to the car. What were the odds that a train would come blocking us from our return trip? They must have been pretty good because in a few minutes I heard the whistle and returned to the track to see a several-mile-long freight train slowly traveling directly across my route. I was thankful for the patience to ride in circles until that train passed and I could get back to the starting point so that we could resume our trip south.
What did I learn from this ordeal? It is very difficult to bring back memories from 50 years ago!