Monday, October 31, 2011

It's true: You can't go home again.

I was in the sixth grade when I moved to Kansas City with my parents; we had relocated there a couple of times before, but we always ended up going back to north Missouri.  In 1956, we came to stay.  
Two of my dad's brothers lived with their families in tiny apartments in the unincorporated area called "Harlem".  Our actual address was Kansas City;  Harlem wasn't the most desirable place to live.  
There were four apartments in the two-story building where my uncles lived; they were in the first-floor apartments, and we rented one of the two apartments on the second story.  From my parents' bedroom there, I could look across the Missouri River and see the Kansas City skyline, so close I could almost touch it.  I loved seeing the huge coffee can atop the Folgers building.  My favorite, though, was the light on the Kansas City Power and Light building that changed colors all the time.  
I slept on the couch during our short time at the apartment, because there were only three rooms:  a bedroom, a living room, and the kitchen; all the rooms were tiny.  The bathroom was downstairs, and we shared it with other occupants of the building.  I say "bathroom", but there was no bathtub or shower.  Only a sink and a toilet.  I think maybe Uncle Cecil's family had a bathroom of their own.  They had more kids, so they definitely needed it!  
Cliff had some business to take care of in North Kansas City today, and I asked him to take me on a sentimental journey to Harlem.  He's much more willing to do silly things like that, now that he's retired.  

This building sits where the apartment house was.  Notice the street name on the sign:  "Harlem Road".  Looking up the street on the left-hand side of the picture, you can almost see the location of the house my parents bought later on... the first home they ever owned.  

That house sat approximately in this spot.  There are very few people living in Harlem now, although we did find a few.

 Way over there.  Houses!

Cliff turned down the road so we could see whether people lived in them.  Yes, the houses are occupied.  These are the sort of houses I remember seeing in Harlem in 1956.  

Finally, I found something that hasn't changed much!  Harlem Baptist Church.  My cousin Alice used to sing in the choir here, alongside her grandmother.  I wonder who attends nowadays, and where they come from.  There certainly aren't enough people living in Harlem to keep a church going.  
More than anything, I would love to have gone to the top of the levee like I used to so I could take a picture of the skyline as it looks from Harlem.  

However, the levee is fenced off.    

No more walking to the other side of the levee with my Allen cousins.

No more climbing up those steps that lead to the A.S.B. bridge.  


Margaret said...

It's cool that you got to go back and see some familiar sites though. You're right; things change and we can never truly go back. I still remember the odd feeling of going back to my elementary school when my girls attended it. Surely the ceilings were way higher and the halls wider when I was a student there!! :)


I interupted my Halloween to write when I saw this new post. I LOVE that you played tag with Cliff and took a sentimental journey to the past. But you're right things change. Going back is never the same. However, it's fun to explore like you did. I found it interesting. Take care.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

It is always a little sad when you look back and see things so changed from what it used to be. Home for me has mostly always been right here where I am now. I've lived in different homes, but always the same town. Our town has really changed though over the years. Now we have a lot of empty store fronts as everything moved out after the opening our shopping mall years ago. And as a sign of the times even our mall has empty store fronts.