Changing times and remembering how things used to be

Posted By | November 21, 2019 12:04 pm

Playl’s Ponderings – By Steve Playl

Cars passed on Main Street. Pedestrians strolled down the sidewalk. Sammie and I sat on the porch of the Hammack-Moore House B & B. Our conversation was relaxed. Thoughts raced through my mind. Most of my thoughts were recollections, attempts to recreate the past. More than three years had passed since our last visit to my hometown, but I wasn’t remembering Madisonville from three years ago.

Sammie has accompanied me to my hometown for well over three decades, so we were able to reminisce about visits spanning many years. We recalled her first trip to “the farm;” the bridal shower hosted by our neighbor; our first Christmas as husband and wife and the 90-mile drive through a deep snow to her parents’ home in Bowling Green; our children’s numerous visits to “the farm;” the deaths of my parents, making our trips there fewer and farther between; and the occasional return visits when we stayed at B & Bs owned and operated by high school friends, Joe and Shirley Thomas.

The years of my life that include my wife are certainly the most precious, but images from my past extend beyond those times to recollections that reach back much further than half a century.

Walking through downtown, I visualized things the way they used to be…five drugstores; three Five and Dimes; two theaters; a half-dozen or so clothing stores – especially Baker and Hickman; two or three banks; jewelry stores; barber shops; furniture stores; appliance stores and service businesses such as Playl Electric Co and Ruby Lumber Co; pool halls; diners; dry cleaners; offices of lawyers, dentists, physicians and a chiropractor; a photography studio; public library; city offices – utilities, city hall, fire station, P.D. and jail; supermarket; tire stores; post office; car dealers; shirt factory; florist shop; trading stamp redemption center; the Elks Club; hotels; a few residences; radio station; bus station; train station; the UMWofA office; churches…and more…all within a block or two of the Hopkins County Courthouse. All those places were there; now most are gone.

We drove by developments, recreational facilities, businesses, and industries that were not there 50 or 60 years ago. One coal mine was, quite obviously, operating successfully. The regional hospital has expanded even since the death of my parents in that facility. Roads are bigger, better, and rerouted. Restaurants, hotels, shopping centers, and subdivisions cover land that was formerly farmland.

We also got to see the place where I was born. I had not been in that building in probably 40 years. The old upstairs apartment is now an unbelievable, state-of-the-art, loft apartment, thanks to the work of Derek Bannister and the decorating skills of his wife, JoElla. They are the new owners. It is absolutely gorgeous. My mother would be so pleased!

The barn and other out buildings are gone from “the farm,” and the house I grew up in was being torn down, too. That made me sad. It’s probably gone by now. Some places can be remodeled. Others just have to be removed.

Over the past few decades there have been many changes in our communities and our country. Political, spiritual, and moral change…in a word, our culture has changed – not just the landscape but the very soul of the people. Some of the change has been good. Some has been unbelievably horrible.

Sometimes I wish we could go back to “the good ole days.” Of course we cannot do that, but what we can do is place our complete trust in the One who, in Revelation 21:5, said, “Behold, I make all things new.”

With his son, Brad, Derek operates a remodeling business out of the old Playl Electric Co. building, the building I was born in. Their     business is called “All Things New.” God can use you and me to bring about change in our world, but one day He will have to tear it all down and “…make all things new.” Until that happens, we must allow Him to remodel our lives and make us new as individuals.

Steve Playl, chaplain, columnist, college instructor and former pastor,

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