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Thursday, September 8, 2016


Mom and I spent the last couple weeks travelling and just got back to Middletown the other night.

You never know how you feel about a place until you leave it. I have left a few times, relocating for work to Philadelphia, relocating to San Antonio for sanity, and once taking a seven week trip to Germany to meet relatives and tour parts of central Europe. Each time, the town was always a welcome visit. A few years ago, it became home again. Being away, even for a short time, makes me miss Main Street, Union Street, and of course, J&J's strombolis! 

This adventure began with a trip to Missouri that was fruitful and was redirected to the Tupelo, Mississippi area. For those up on your Elvis trivia, you know that is his birthplace, and is just ONE of many places to channel your inner EP. The Tupelo Hardware store, Car Museum, and talking with locals provides an insight to the man we all saw on the TV or movie theater. As my classmates would tell you, Elvis was someone I looked up to all my younger years, so this was one of my bucket-list trips come true. Mom is also a fan, although she doesn't recall much except he was entertaining and a general good guy. She tolerated my obsession because she knew there was another drive to another place that she will truly enjoy. On THIS drive, she would get all the scenery she wanted! 3300 miles of it. Part of that total came when we went to the most popular destination in the state of Tennessee.... Graceland.

Elvis bought this now-famous house back in the 50's and never strayed far. You can see the height of decorating in the late 1970's, his many many awards, many, many jumpsuits worn in concert, and his final resting place. On THIS day, a thunderstorm came through just as we were leaving. I wanted to wait it out, but Mom said "Let's Go!" and we beat the downpour. There is a reason why so many folks make the trip to Memphis, and this homestead is the biggest reason why. Elvis is still beloved after all these years and it is cool to see even the kids enjoying his music and movies.

On to Florida we went, as one of my best friends has been patiently waiting years for me to come down. Leo has two young kids and a fantastic wife that made us feel like family as soon as we walked in to their home. Having children around was something Mom hasn't had in decades, unless you include ME! She REALLY enjoyed their excitement and laughter, reminding me that this is the same woman who didn't do that all too often before her head injury. We saw some sights in West Palm Beach, from an alligator in the swamp, time on the beach, to the Flagler Mansion, she took it all in, always asking what was next.  If it was up to HER, we would still be there!

After being away from Middletown for two weeks, I was more than ready to return. It doesn't sound like much. Two weeks? Would you miss the sights, sounds, and smells of home while being distracted with new sights? I did this time, and I did before, when we went on a 7-week trip to Germany 30 years ago. I wanted to kiss the ground when we crossed into Raider country! In my many years of living away, home always was here. It isn't on Forbes list of greatest places to live. It isn't recognized even by it's own citizens as ideal, but we are trying to get back to the community I remember from my youth. People from all over the area knew it was safe, the schools were good, the people were nice, and the town had history.

We now have a Mayor that cares and wants to make a difference, the will to move past the politics that have cost us so much, and the motivation to make our town one we can be proud of. The longer I live, the more I seem to put away the dream of living someplace where winter never arrives. Snow should be something OTHER places deal with. Even though I dislike that season so much, living here, where I grew up, gives a certain feeling of belonging. Despite being away for over 10 years with work, I feel the roots planted here since birth. Fox's is not here anymore. Roots Furniture is gone. Klahr's is leveled. Many of the people I knew are gone. Yet, this is MY town. I am proud of our handling TMI, and the fact that we had a Mayor that was also a teacher was cool. I still ache over the loss to Berwick in the first state football playoffs. I miss our spirit, but am hopeful that the youngsters bring a new energy that will allow OUR town to be a place everyone, including the graduates of Penn State, will always think of fondly.

I am and always will be a Raider, no matter where I happen to be....

If you read any of the postings here on Mom or follow us on FB (Tom Welcomer) we try and be entertaining. Here is the story I wrote on Crowdrise to start a campaign to fund future trips...
I hope you find it good enough to share! 

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