I drove by the old duplex in Molalla and it looked pretty much the same—love those carports! I lived in one half of this duplex when I listened to the first Ali/Frazier fight on a Sears Silvertone Stereo Console. I wish I had that piece of furniture today.
I remember nothing of the fight except the 14-year-old babysitter smoking grass on the patio. She was there and not there.
My parents owned a dark green VW Fastback. (I later drove it in high school.) My sister and I shared a bedroom. I slept on the top bunk.
I walked to school every morning and never walked with my older sister. That sort of separation has lasted half a century.
My family had just returned from missionary service in Brazil. My father dug water lines and smuggled diamonds and guns in service for the Lord.
All our Brazilian possessions came packed in a large wooden crate shipped through the Panama Canal. I made a clubhouse out of that crate. I know the babysitter had an assignation in there.
An old man who lived in a shack behind us poisoned our cat. My sister never forgot that. Nor did she forget David Cassidy.
I remember only one kid from Molalla: John McDean. Damn, that’s a great name! We might have played soccer together if only anyone played soccer back then. I did! I had grown up in Brazil!
In the other half of the duplex lived a returning soldier and his Vietnamese wife and child. One day he was practicing his golf swing in the front yard and he clobbered the kid with a 7 iron. There was blood everywhere and an ambulance came.
They didn’t live there for long. We hadn’t even invaded Cambodia yet. But shit, the courage it took to come back to his hometown. They ate him alive.
I drove around Molalla killing time before a thrift store assisting the mentally ill opened.
Trump signs everywhere: windows, roofs, doors, garages, trucks, lawns, public property.
My old dentist’s office was boarded up and fenced off.
Log trucks blew by. They were loaded with pencil dicks. The days of the three-log load are over.
The bowling alley had died. It was now some kind of faith-based service center.
Three cannabis shops clustered downtown. They surrounded a tattoo parlor.
Bearded men replaced the facade of a dive bar. Why bother?
The rodeo grounds of the Molalla Buckaroo looked tired but there was still wrangling going on there every Fourth of July, except for that one time when rumors of Antifa showing up canceled the show and that time they wouldn’t agree to mask up and social distance.
A half dozen Mexican joint prepped for lunchtime. The Latinos will be running the town in another decade.
An elderly homeless man bicycled past me. His dachshund in the rigged-up side car was sniffing the wind.
Maybe the man was John McDean, this being Oregon today.
I pulled into the parking lot of the thrift store. There was a line out front waiting to enter. Half appeared homeless. I know the look well by now so don’t bother telling me I don’t.
I stood in line. Maybe I’d find a treasure. The Holy Grail? A short-sleeved Pendleton sewn in Oregon long ago by union women.
Well, not that long ago.
You can and cannot go home again.