I’ve always enjoyed being alone to a certain extent.
Brenda had a meeting a few weeks ago, and I found myself alone. The wind had cooled the earlier sunshine. The radiant heat from the sun warmed the cement fire pit, and the breeze made the fire a welcome companion, just enough to take the chill out of the air.
The coming rain brought the promise the next few hours would be pleasant ones, indeed.
The shadows lengthened as I slowly sank back into my lawn chair. The logs quickly ignited, and within a few minutes a nice fire was burning, and the soft pine began to snap.
I had read an article earlier in the day about President John F. Kennedy. I smiled as I remembered my mother traveling to Dayton to see Kennedy at the old county courthouse downtown when he came through town in 1960.
Mom got up early that morning, as was her custom, to be one of the first on the courthouse steps for the early afternoon event. A reporter for the Dayton Daily News took her picture wearing a straw hat with Kennedy’s name wrapped around the brim.
As I thought about downtown Dayton that day, I thought about the old Rike’s Department Store, which was a block away on Second Street. My mom always took me to Rike’s to shop for school clothes in late August to prepare for the coming school year.
“Pat, can you think of anything else you need?” Mom asked.
“I would like to have that yellow rain coat with the hood,” I responded.
“Good idea,” Mom said, to my surprise.
Rainy days were special days. I got to wear my rain gear to school.
Then, I heard the first drop of rain hit the burning logs with a loud sizzle sound, and saw the white steam rise from the wood.
The drops came harder and within a few minutes I headed toward the garage to get out of the downpour. I shook the rain drops from my coat when I looked over and saw it hanging on a hook near the door. It was a yellow raincoat and hood I had bought a few years ago just for nights like these.
Why not? I thought as I slipped into the raingear and out the door as I headed to Wilmington. I am alone. It is raining. I am in no hurry, and I am going to do something I love to do.
I am going to walk in the rain.
The rain made me think of pleasant times in my life. I parked my car on North Spring Street. Within a minute or two, I saw my sister, Rita’s, old house on Fulton Street. I remembered the nights I stayed with her and Dick, while attending the junior high on the hill near Alumni Field.
It was a nice feeling, the raindrops bouncing off my raincoat, and to remember the nights after basketball practice when I would stop at Swissie’s and get a candy bar and pop, and then walk home.
I retraced my steps from the old home place on Spring Street, along Wood Street to Clinton, and across the old football field to the then new, high school.
Down the street I passed the house of a woman who reported prowlers to the City Police three or four times a week when I was on the department. The lady was just lonely. The police officers might be the only people she spoke to all week.
The lights of downtown sparkled off my raincoat as the light rain became heavier. The courthouse lay just ahead. It was nice to remember when my dad and I would stop there on election night, make predictions, wait on the vote tallies, and visit. It was an annual ritual.
Looking out the back door at the old jail, I thought about the picture Tammy Maynard showed me last week at a meeting. Of the thirteen deputies pictured, only three of us are still alive.
I walked past the little cut-out on the courthouse lawn where kids saw Santa Clause at Christmas, and received a large bag of M and M’s, along with three or four oranges.
This night was a night for memories. As I sat in the car and took off my raincoat, I thought about time, how quickly it passes, especially as we grow older.
People leave our lives and others grow-up. My thoughts turned to grandson, Jack. His voice had lowered the last time I spoke to him on the phone. He is in middle school now, about the same age I was when I walked to school in the rain.
We talked about what he would like for Christmas this year.
Maybe I will get him a yellow raincoat and hat.
For those nights when he is alone, and lucky enough to be walking in the rain.
Pat Haley is a Clinton County Commissioner.