Friday, September 09, 2011

Knapsack 9-15

Knapsack 9-15-11

Jeff Gill


Steps to nowhere, or from somewhere



We laid Robert Thomas to rest a few weeks ago at Centenary.


He was a pillar of the earliest, the 8 am service, and his family is woven back into the history of the village.


Pastor Steve noted that his first visits with Bob and his mother was at their home just past Tannery Hill, one door east of Minnie Hite Moody's house. The Thomas home wasn't built in 1809 with foundation stones from Alligator Mound a thousand years old, but it was where his father practiced the veterinary arts for what seems like most of the last century.


Dr. Thomas is gone, his wife died with her son living there so she could stay at home to the end, then it was torn down as the westernmost part of what became the St. Edward's property. Only the steps up from the sidewalk and a bit of wall remain, but you can see right where the Thomas home and barn beyond once were.


A common refrain at a few recent memorial services I've attended (or presided at) has been the passing of an era, the loss of what once was. "Old Granville" is going and New Granville is hurtling down the newly widened expressway.


Perhaps. There are new faces at parent meetings, or filing variances with the Board of Zoning and Building Appeals, where I realize with shock that I'm now the second most senior member of the panel, even though I feel like the rankest newcomer.


Having a historian's ear, I pick up stories, and being a storyteller at heart, I like to tell them. No doubt I change them a bit, rounding the corners as most talespinners do, and occasionally filing off the serial numbers like a thief (names changed to protect the guilty, and all that).


What I've noticed, though, as I tell my stories, is that those of the Old Granville often start with entering the village as a newcomer: cresting the hill south of town on Rt. 37 and seeing the Swasey steeple for the first time, riding across Clear Run in an ox cart from the east, skirting the valley of Raccoon Creek on horseback.


We all came here, except the Native people, and even there we tell the story of a fluted point 10,000 years old, found below a mound on the edge of today's city limits, a connection to those heroic first explorers, the Indian hunters gently walking across the land in search of mastodon and mammoth, walking the retreating glacier's edge on their epic journey from Asia into a New World from the west.


Today the newest arrivals are likely to come from the west, whether in a taxi from Port Columbus or with a moving van down Rt. 661 or whatever number we're putting on that road for now.


The old, old story of Granville is of an endless parade of new arrivals, and the ones who got here first waiting along Broadway to tell them where the class lists are posted, which flavor of frozen custard is best, or why there's three steps up from the sidewalk into a patch of grass east of town.


Look out, you'll soon be an oldtimer yourself if you're not careful; crackerbarrel and pipe optional.


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; tell him an old-time tale at, or follow Knapsack @Twitter.

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