Nov 022019

While I have had more success with my mystery books than I ever could have imagined, thanks to loyal readers like you wonderful folks, for a while now I have been toying with the idea of writing a family saga type series spanning several generations from the early 1900s through the Vietnam War. One reason is because I love history so much. So we are currently in Toledo, Ohio doing research for that project.

I went to high school in Toledo but left for the Army as soon as I graduated, and except for a year or so when I got out of the Army, my life’s path took me out west and I never returned other than a few short visits over the years. But in many ways I have always thought of Toledo and the neighboring town of Sylvania, the inspiration for the setting for the fictional Elmhurst in my Dog’s Run books, as my home. Unfortunately, this visit has proven that the old saying you can’t go home again is very true.

I know that time marches on, and I was not so foolish as to believe that the place would be the same, but just how much it has changed is very saddening. Miss Terry and I spent a lot of time just driving down the streets I once knew so well but hardly recognize now.

Empty lots and fields are now where the house I lived in, my old junior high school, and high school once stood. And much of what remains of my old neighborhood is in such sad shape that it is heartbreaking. What was once a blue class neighborhood of well-kept homes where kids played in the red brick streets and neighbors visited on front porches is now a collection of dilapidated structures with broken windows, sagging roofs, and sketchy characters standing on street corners looking like they are in need of a fix or a victim.

I graduated from Libbey High School, which was called “The Castle on the Hill when it was built in 1923, and served generations of students until closing in 2010. I went to school with kids whose parents and grandparents had all gone to Libbey, as did their own kids and sometimes even their grandkids after them.

Now all that is left is our memories. This field where the proud old school once stood, and a historical marker commemorating Libby and its students are all that remain. Sad. So sad.

But the good news is that I managed to reconnect with an old friend I had not seen since I left for the Army way back in 1971. We lived next door to Terry Starkey and his family, and he was one of my buddies on more adventures than I can ever recall. I stopped by his old house, where his mother and sister still live, and they told me how to find his house. And even after all these years all three of them remembered me instantly. It was nice to catch up and reminisce about the old days. I admitted to Terry’s mom, Joan, that when I was a kid I had a major crush on her, and in turn his little sister Joanie said she always had a crush on me! But of course, she was about six or seven years old at the time, and she remembered me being six feet tall back then!

The years washed away as Terry and I talked about riding our bicycles in the cloud behind the trucks spraying DDT for mosquitoes, and his dad Pete teaching us how to shoot bows and arrows. It was nice to find that a little bit of my youth still lives on in memory, if nowhere else. Maybe some things do stay the same.

Thought For The Day – These days when we have a couple of adult beverages, it’s Metamucil and Ensure.

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  9 Responses to “You Can’t Go Home Again”

  1. You brought a smile to my face as you told of reconnecting with your school mate…thank you.

  2. I grew up and went to elementary and junior high in Connersville, Indiana. I joined their FB group and am amazed at the changes. On a trip back about 25 years ago for my grandfather’s 100th birthday celebration, I drove around and showed my kids where I lived as a kid. “But Dad, those aren’t houses, they’re shacks!” was their adult comments. And, the really were shocked that I spent my two years of Junior High riding a school bus from the country where we lived in a 2 room with loft converted milk house next to a barn.

  3. Just a quick post to let you know how much we enjoy your blogs and ALL your books. I usually read the daily email to my husband as we are driving or having breakfast and he loves all the crazy folks who you come in contact with. He shakes his head or laughs out loud! I don’t comment often but today’s blog is so true and so sad that I just wanted to let you know we enjoy being a part of Ms. Terry and your life. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

  4. I’d forgotten about riding bikes in the cool mist behind DDT trucks.

    I remember breaking thermometers to play with the mercury. Then using it to turn a penny silver and taking the penny to school to show everyone.

  5. Hi buddy;
    I read all your blogs & love them all. Yes, it is cold in Ohio now. lost my wife well over a year now. But found a great lady & we have been married just 2 months now.
    Enjoy each other more than you can imagine.
    Hey, reason for this is that we live in Ashland, OH now and would really like to take you to lunch if you get this way. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll chase you both when you get back home.
    Looking forward to telling lies, etc.
    Jerry (& Mollie) Stearns

  6. I know. I lived in Phoenix, Arizona from 1954 to 1959. I didn’t want to leave. I had many friends and loved my school. But my Dad could not make a living so we moved to Florida where he worked on the space program. I hated Florida and thought Titusville was the armpit of the world. I was able to return to Phoenix in the 1990s and was so shocked at how big it was and how my neighborhood was somewhat run down. The house is still there but it is much smaller than I remember. And after many years I realized that Titusville is a great place to live, work and retire. And it’s true, you can not go home again because you remember it as it was not as it has grown and changed while you were gone.

  7. You speak the truth. As a fellow Toledoan I can testify. St. John’s HS 69 and University of Toledo 72. It is sad and depressing. Not unlike many other cities and towns. What can only exist is in our memories. We must try to honor history. As a wordsmith you are one of the few that can tell what is/was.
    I believe you are from the neighborhood near Broadway near the entrance to the high level bridge. There used to be a restaurant called the Green Lantern there. Tiedtke’s department store. The grandeur of the decor in the theaters downtown. they’re gone now. Please incorporate that area into the story if you can..


  8. And that is why we need books. I loved the link my gray line serries. Sadly the author wasn’t able to get all the way to current.
    Looking forward to the new books.

  9. Terry was so happy to have seen you ! Next time you are here call and we can get together! I read Dogs Run and starting book 2 Love them! Your my favorite author now 🙂

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