Our family lived the second door north of Lewiston's 12-grade school throughout our years on Fremont Street. I always felt somehow privileged that our home was situated there, like having a front row seat at a live performance.
As if I was Alice at the tiny door squeezing back in time, I can hear a neighbor's distant radio echoing a baseball announcer's sprightly commentary through the raucous din of fans dotting splintery bleachers. Pulling moonbeams out from underfoot, mothers call their children in for the night. Crickets and fireflies beckon a young dreamer to dawdle in dizzying intimacy with a caressing firmament. As boyfriends begin to call, leading her into unfamiliar realms, the small town "girl next door"Ě dances with stars in her eyes. As I drive up and down Fremont now, with its street signs and house numbers, often with two granddaughters in tow, ghosts of those giant trees that once towered over both sides of the street still lay their girth and magnificent height across recollections of past residents, house by house, who no longer reside there.
Rough cement sidewalk slabs, their spikes of grass and dandelions poking through familiar cracks, held autumn's dwindling warmth into each new school year. The adept roller skater soon memorized every flaw that had given rise to more than a few bloody knees and skinned elbows. It was an era of make-do, when things like heaving, cracked sidewalks, flapping shingles and squeaky screen doors were attributes of home.
The upstairs window, in the NE corner of our house, framed outdoor activity from where I sat on the end of my twin bed in the room I shared with two younger sisters. As a child, I watched for Dad as he walked home from Nussloch's Grocery where he was the friendly butcher for many years. I could count on seeing him jauntily cutting through long shadows of those noble trees at exactly 11:35 for dinner and again at 5:15 for supper at the close of another workday.
Beyond that frigid bedroom window, Christmas lights glowed nostalgically through frosted panes and feathery mounds of snow on outdoor trees and scrubs. From beyond railroad tracks, golden lights of Main Street gilded outstretched arms of night. I could see sidewalks drifting shut, cringing because it was me who helped Dad shovel.
As an adolescent, I sulked in my corner of the bedroom when I sought to be alone with Elvis and my moody blues. Through that window, sounds of a country town drifted in. Art Wire's tractor putted along as he came to town for his onion and butter sandwich at Lewis' Caf√©.
One of our neighbors staggered home, black from unloading coal from the train. His small, wiry frame bolted and swayed to the rhythm of his continuous gibberish. A family story that always promises laughter is the evening brother Ronnie came running home and saw him just in time to jump over him as he lay across the cement, the result of "one more for the road"Ě.
On Sunday mornings, as we dressed for church services at the Bethany Moravian Church, a parade of cars and people walking made their way to St. Rose Catholic Church, the women and girls adorned with black or white doilies on their heads, a needling curiosity.
With teen years came dating and the desire to look more like a girl than a roughneck. I would often sit at that window watching for my date to come tooling up the street. It would drive Mother batty when I ran down the stairs before the guy could fetch me at the door.
I was employed at Rush Products in Lewiston after graduation and lived at home. It was in that bedroom where I dressed in my wedding dress on June 5, 1965. As a young wife I moved into another house, on another street in my hometown.
In dreams, that bedroom window draws me in still"¶not looking out, but peering inside"¶leaving me to wonder, where has everyone gone?
Janet Burns grew up in Lewiston where she and her husband raised their family. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org