What a strange feeling it is.
Because you've grown up and your perspective has changed, everything that once looked so big, is now much smaller. And, since fifty or sixty years have passed, everything is different.
You remember the funniest things.
There's the little frame house on Richland you lived in back in the '40s. It was raining and you sat on the porch swing playing a cardboard horse race game where you spun a little needle around and you moved each horse piece accordingly. Citation always seemed to win. You can still smell the clean rain and hear the soft rumble of summer thunder.
Out on Main, there's another old house you remember. You were sitting astride your bike back in 1945 when Jerry's Mom came out of the house crying and said the war was over. You'd never seen anyone cry because they were happy before. The old house still stands, but its paint is peeling and the porch sags.
The highway bridge on Main, right by the shirt factory hasn't changed. The thick concrete top rail is still rough to your hand, but you have to bend down now to see between the short concrete cylinders supporting it. The creek looks smaller than it did in the '40s. You remember that you and Kenneth sometimes slipped under the metal rail at the edge of the bridge, climbed down the rocks, and walked on the smooth brown stones to a spot under the bridge where you could see the crawdads and minnows swimming in the shallow water.
Uptown now, on the square, there's the old insurance office where your Aunt Lellye used to work. You spent a few afternoons in there spinning around on her wooden lean back desk chair, watching the ceiling fans, or watching Mr. Smith play with his straw boater hat. He was a skinny guy who wore seersucker suits and bow ties and made you laugh.
The little wooden bandstand in the center of the square is gone now and probably forgotten. That was where they had a radio set up back in 1948 and you and your grandma were in the crowd listening as the presidential election returns came in. You remember the smell of cigars and cigarettes. The crowd seemed happy, yet quiet, listening carefully to the words on the radio. Occasionally, when the radio announcer said something, a few people would clap or cheer or sometimes laugh.
Scott's drugstore where you drank your first milkshake stands empty now, its brick facade faded and worn. Blind Mr. Adams' little market where you sometimes bought Double Bubble or Super Bubble gum was torn down long ago.
All of the older people have passed away, and the young ones you knew moved on long ago. If you see someone on the street or perhaps you stop in a store for a coke, the people look strange, you don't recognize anyone. And they look at you the same way, like you're a complete and utter outsider, a stranger, a rank stranger.