Paris Goodnight: A quick stroll down memory lane

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 5, 2023

If a picture is worth a thousand words, does a photograph with 25 people in it mean that’s really worth 25,000?

We didn’t really try to figure that out while waiting around for a recent family crisis to ease, but I spent a little time at my brother’s house as two of my siblings were looking over an old family photograph of relatives long passed.

I decided to pick up a journal that my mother had written years ago as my way to pass some quiet moments when the rains were falling and keeping me from venturing outside. Both activities also gave us a little time to ponder some of the events from days gone by.

It was two versions of going back in time that were going on at the same time. I listened in on their conversations about who was who in the faded old photo while telling them of the little nuggets I stumbled upon from my mother’s writings. There would be a very small audience interested in the people or details of either, but to the three of us it was a way of remembering folks who had touched our lives in so many ways from so long ago.

I still try to pencil down a few details  in a journal or diary of sorts, but it’s mostly to keep my own thoughts separate. I rarely go back to see what I’ve written after the fact, just like we don’t often go back and look at all the videos we took over the years. But maybe one day we will, when the time is right.

I imagine my mom was the same way and didn’t spend a lot of time going back to look over all the things she’d written about. She’s got a separate volume for each year, so if we ever want to pick out one from the 1990s to see what was going on, we can. They’re all lined up neatly in the home where she lived the last years of her life.

One book with a little wider audience was stashed away on the same shelves and it detailed the adventures of Charlie Goodnight, who not only has a statue of him somewhere out in Texas but had a comedy club in Raleigh named for him. I read the details of his life years ago and wondered if there would be anyone like him to follow in later Goodnight generations. But he was the kind of trailblazer that few of any era would be able to match.

That’s why they still have trails named for him out west and why full books have been written about his escapades.

As the little trip down memory lane continued, we brought up tales that we remembered like the kids who threw rocks at us while we walked to school or mean older boys who had loud cars that put fear into us as we had to pass by their territory.

I pointed out that I had recently ridden my bike past the house where our grandparents lived and noted it’s still in good shape, along with the house across the street where several aunts spent their years in Kannapolis. Not so much for the house we all grew up in. It was bulldozed long ago.

The field that my brother and I once accidentally set ablaze has long been filled in with more houses, as is the area that held the barn where we played. We didn’t dwell too long on that little smoke bomb mishap but can at least chuckle about it now when it comes up, though it was no laughing matter as a little kid in fear of catching the cows on fire.

Many of the other stories of people we reminisced about were certainly not written down anywhere. But some of those memories from long ago are still etched in our minds as clearly as if they were put on a page, or probably more clear since that’s one of the tricks the mind plays on us. We can remember something from second grade better than something that happened yesterday.

Now that I think about it, I can’t remember exactly what I did yesterday. Maybe I’ll take a look back in the diary and see if it was anything of importance — if I don’t forget to do that too.

Paris Goodnight is editor of the Salisbury Post.