While once again arranging important things I’ve saved for a lifetime – an ongoing process – I came across a record this week that means a lot to me. It’s a 7-inch, 45-rpm vinyl, and the artist is my lifelong friend, George McLendon. We grew up together in southern end of rural Russell County.
George not only tried to help me understand math when I was struggling with algebra, geometry, and calculus but also tried to reassure me that I could carry a tune – which I was not much better at doing than I was at solving math problems. Later, he married my good friend, Dell, and they produced two lovely and talented daughters. For a while after their marriage, they lived in Jernigan, right across the road from my parents.
The music and lyrics on both sides of the record are George’s original creations.
The B-side, “Let Me Hear You Say, Girl,” is a beautiful love song that showcases his smooth, mellifluous voice. The A-Side, “I’m Going Back,” is about a theme that is dear to me: home.
I grew up in Jernigan, which is “a hop, skip, and a jump” from McLendon, a spot located on the road between Cottonton and Pittsview, where George grew up. Like Jernigan, McLendon is lost now from most county maps.
When George sings about “going back” to a place where “the skies were clear and the sun shone up above,” “where sacred ties would bend but never crack,” I see Jernigan as surely as he must see McLendon.
Novelist Thomas Wolfe says that we can’t go home again. And it’s true that places change and sometimes disappear. But Annie Danielson of Danielson Designs says that, by far, her best selling decorative sign reads, “Home Is Where Our Story Begins.” Most of us go down a lot of paths over the course of our lives, but almost without fail we remember “home” as a place where skies were clear, the place our narrative began.
Marian Carcache welcomes
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