This past July marked the 45th year in which I have lived in Memphis. And although it is not the town I was born in, it is certainly the town I have lived in most of my life and the town I would call my hometown. While it has proven to be a very stable location for me, it didn’t start out that way.
By the time I had turned 14 years old, I had already lived in three different towns and my parents had lived in five different towns since getting married. These moves occurred because my father, being a minister, served several different churches early in his career.
Up until the time that I was about four years old, I lived in Natchitoches (pronounced NAK-e-tish), LA. I have very few memories of living in this town and most of the memories I have are from seeing home movies or old photos.
This was the house I was brought home to from the hospital after I was born. A few years ago, my siblings and I took one of our SIBSAB weekends there but even standing in front of the house in person, did not resurrect any memories of living there.
The next town we moved to was West Monroe, LA. This is the town where I went to kindergarten and completed most of my elementary grades.
We lived in this house with a very large backyard and used to play in the “hollows” that our backyard abutted next to. This is also the town where I had my first girlfriend, R, when I was six years old.
When I was in the fifth grade, we moved to a small town in Arkansas—Malvern. It was the smallest town I had ever lived in (population less than 10,000). Although we lived there less than four years, it is a town I have more memories of since I was 10 years old at the time we moved.
This is the town where I got my first job, when I was about 12 throwing the town newspaper. My brother and I both had the route together, one of the largest in town, and so Monday through Friday afternoon, we rode our bikes and delivered the weekly paper. Then on Saturday, we had to go around and collect the paper fee, 35¢. Sometimes we would argue who would have to knock on the door and would get into a fight in the customer’s front yard. One of our customers went to my Dad’s church and so called our mom to tell her what happened. We obviously heard about that from our mom.
With the money we earned, my brother and I went in together and bought a mini-bike, which were just becoming popular. These could not be licensed for riding on the road and so with my friend who also had a mini-bike, we would ride throughout the roads and trails in the cemetery near our home. Fortunately the convenience of being there never materialized although one night my friend was helping his little brother get on the seat in front of him when his little brother grabbed the accelerator (twist grip) and they took off completely out of control before crashing into a ditch. Other than a bloody mouth from the fall, everyone was OK.
When I became a teenager, I talked my brother into selling the mini-bike so I could buy a motorcycle.
By today’s standards, this was not a powerful bike having less horsepower than a riding lawnmower. But it was street legal and so I could license it and get a motorbike license myself. Since part of the paper route was on a highway, my mom didn’t want me to ride the motorbike to deliver papers on a busy thoroughfare so our compromise was I would throw papers while riding my bicycle on the sidewalk along the highway and then come home to get the motorcycle to deliver on the back streets.
In the seventh grade in Junior high school—the first time you could pick classes—I signed up for a course called “Survey” since all my fiends were too. A little misleading by the name, it was actually a physical education course and exposed students to all sports so they could “survey” to see which ones they might be interested in playing. I ran track and tried to play football. I could run pretty fast with my long legs but I didn’t have the strength or the build to be a football player. I tried anyway but the year I was an 8th grader, I was what you would call, a “bench warmer.” We were the junior varsity team (the varsity team was the 9th graders since junior high went up to the 9th grade) and even got to travel for road games, one I remember going to in Benton, AR.
In spite of not getting much playtime, my coach recognized my dedication and so offered to make me a team manager the following year. This meant I wouldn’t be sitting on the bench anymore, I’d be helping the team AND I would get a letter jacket. Unfortunately, we moved that summer and so I never got to. Moving when we did also meant that I had to break up with the girlfriend I had at the time. It seemed the right thing to do since a long distance relationship without all of the technology we have today just didn’t seem practical.
So it was in July of 1970 that we moved to Memphis arriving at the manse I would live in until I went away to college.
Since I have lived in Memphis so long, it became a town of many firsts for me. It was here where I got my first “real” job selling ladies shoes at Goldsmith’s (which is where I met my wife). It is where I finished high school, went to college and graduate school (twice). And it is where all three of our kids were born, raised, and graduated from high school. In fact Memphis is the only town my wife has ever lived in being a third generation life-long Memphian.
So now that I am approaching retirement, the question is where should we live after I retire? That as they say is the 64,000 dollar question since with three grandchildren already and the possibility for more to come, the real question is can we possibly retire to a town that is close to all our kids and grandchildren. Only time will tell.