How Google Street View Destroyed My Childhood Memories
While I was writing a post for Writers’ Week last night, I got to thinking about the house my grandparents lived in when I was a child. I always loved that 1930s bungalow with the breakfast nook and the porch swing and the basement workshop full of my grandfather’s treasures. Nuts and bolts on tiny shelves in baby food jars. A vice clamped to the workbench. An old electric beer sign with the beer logo gone and a 2″x3″ picture of my grandmother from 1940-something tucked in the corner of the frame.
Grandpa never threw anything away.
The lawn there was well-kept, and grandpa put corn cobs on the huge tree in the front yard for the squirrels. In the backyard, fresh rhubarb grew every summer. Summer nights in Freeport, Illinois—unlike the summer nights in my hometown in Southern Indiana—were bearable, pleasant even. I remember swaying in the porch swing, wearing my pink polka-dot nightgown, and not being eaten alive by mosquitoes. I remember Mom and Grandma talking. Me eating a Push-Pop.
That house has always been magical to me. When Grandpa passed away in 1987, Grandma stayed in the house for a few more years until eventually the house was too much work and the neighborhood had declined. My dad sold the house after that, and I was crushed. I saw the closing documents on his desk one day, and went to my room to mourn.
That house might as well have been a castle.
To this day, I repeatedly have dreams about buying my grandparents’ old house. I don’t know where I’ll work or what I’ll do in the dream, but I’m happy just to be in the house. I think I dream about it so much because that’s how my subconscious mind figures it will bring back my childhood. Bring back my grandparents.
Anyway, I had this brilliant idea last night that I would use the magic of the internet to revisit those fond childhood memories of the house at 30 W. Dexter. I pulled up Google Maps and went to street view. And then I promptly cried my eyes out. The tree is gone, the porch is smaller somehow, and my childhood and my memories of my grandparents slip further and further away.
I learned my lesson.