Friday, September 2, 2011

The Power of Place: Location, Location, Location

Yesterday I experienced the power that a special place has over us mere mortals. The notion that an inanimate object like the combination of wood, mortar and lake stones could have such a profound effect and evoke so much emotions still astounds me as I write this.

You see yesterday we laid the last of my mother and father's generation to rest. My mom's sister, my Auntie Gert, who had managed to reach the beautiful and wise age of 88 years. Gert lived her life on her terms and passed peacefully in her sleep in her own home. Like a beer commercial once said, " don't get better than this".

Following the internment at Ft. Snelling where my Uncle Harry and Aunt Gert have perhaps the most beautiful view in all the cemetery looking over a pond and fountain, a number of the cousins decided to head out to the old family cemetery where our grandparents are buried. Before stopping at the cemetery we pressed on to South Haven where my mother was born in a home which still stands and my Grandpa once owned and ran the corner cafe on Main Street. South Haven, population 193, is one of those towns which has not changed (other than the closed and boarded up store fronts and one burned out lot) in over forty years.

As we took stock of my Grandpa's boarded up cafe, I suggested we go out to the old family cabin on Lake Sylvia. My oldest sibling expressed doubts that I could find the cabin. Oh Ye of little faith! I had used this cabin as my party headquarters during college and I could find the place blindfolded and in a drunken stupor. Much to our amazement the old cabin still stood, resplendent in its simplicity, its charm intact but in improved form.

The hilltop cabin of my Uncle and mother's family was still in existence right down to the 1950's kitchen table and 1940's Skelgas stove with griddle. The current owner and her sister were present and invited us inside where upon seeing the aforementioned furnishings formerly belonging to my family I became overcome with emotion and had to step outside and compose myself. It is simply amazing how a place can conjure up such memories so real and powerful that it was almost like bringing the dearly departed back to life. God bless those wise enough to understand historic preservation.

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