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  Monday January 26th, 2015    

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Lewiston’s Harley and Hank (07/04/2004)
By Janet Lewis Burns

"Home, as far as I'm concerned, is the place you have to leave. And then, if you're like me, spend the rest of your life mourning." - Paulette Bates Alden

One's old "stomping grounds" are never completely flushed from memory. I can say that I've lived in my hometown all of my life. Before me, way back in 1885, the name of the town was changed from New Boston to Lewiston. My Lewis ancestors founded the burg, which has grown from a population of 241 back in 1880.

Our youth cries for attention as we age. "Jump on a crack and break your mother's back!" Through your veins pulses an obscure resting place you continue to dream of. The spaces where one once romped and grew now seem like foreign turf, cramped and secretive.

What would a successful city businesswoman notice on a return trip to Lewiston after thirty or so years? Questions would fill the rural, non-polluted air. What happened to the Cly-Mar? When did Sim's little store close down? Who cuts hair now...where's Gus? Where is the local fitness center? "Huh?"

Lewiston has ae Subway and a flower shop! The Auto Company building on Main and Rice, that sun-baked cement wall on the opposite corner, where we girls lollygagged and ogled at the cool cats as they rumbled past in shiny hot rods, and the ornate, antiquated house - all gone. A tornado raised havoc on July 8, 1999, with $1.5 million in damages.

Family names engraved in Lewiston's history seem to have relocated themselves out on Highway 14. Lyle Nienow's Auto Company, Kennedy's Monument, Stub Rislow's Gas Station, Darrell Benson's Farm Service, and Camera Art's national conglomerate (now named Herff Jones). So where are the White Knight and the Rustic bars? Snooks and Elmer? Cliff's Service Station?

I collect miniatures with nostalgia...wabi sabi replicas of times past, and reminders of folks let go, engulfing my mundane world with a temporary hot flash each time I discover one. My favorites, at the moment, are the ceramic high-top, worn and crinkled granny shoes, a small-scale screen door, fishing pole and Don William's western hat.

Home and Harley: Harley Seeman passed away in June, one of the many colorful town characters who've resided in Lewiston during my 59 years. As a hometown kid, I remember his stark white uniform and jovial bantering, as we peeked in at him while he worked at Marvin Benike's Creamery on Fremont Street, where our family lived.

My brother Ronnie couldn't pronounce my name. It came out "Jammie." Harley, another former neighbor Tom Conway, and lifelong friend and neighbor Dawn, have called me Jammie for years. Living alone, in the house where he was raised, his thick glasses and casual way of conversing, his rolling laughter, endeared Harley to those who knew him. May he rest in peace.

A sad recollection: Hank Matheney (unsure of spelling) was a notable presence on Lewiston's Main Street way back when I was in grade school. Taking his duties very seriously, Hank regularly maneuvered a clumsy mail wagon, with its large rusty wheels, resembling a swill cart, from the depot to the post office.

The solitary man had a pronounced limp and dressed shabbily, living in his decrepit shack next to the town dump. Hank was a pathetic target of thoughtless pranks and rude teasing by punk kids, who didn't have a clue how loneliness twists and turns in one's gut. His rickety cart was one day retired, and Hank safely tucked away in Lewiston's memoirs.

The individual can travel afar, reside in many "homes," and follow endless paths on life's sojourn, but there's something one can never hide from. You can't duck, run, or disappear from yourself.

"You're it! Last one home is a rotten egg!" 


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