My little getaway abode over the 4th of July weekend turned out to be in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. A friend of mine was out of town and graciously offered her apartment to me.

Murfreesboro was the first place I lived solo. I was 17 years old and rented part of an historic house in the antebellum, but kinda run-down part of town. The place my friend offered was three blocks away from my old house! It was so exciting to be in that part of the world again. I popped on my roller skates and skated through the streets, past all those crumbling and gorgeous pre Civil War homes.

The thing I love most about that part of town are all the carriage stones. Just about every front yard has an old rock or concrete slab in front. The carriages would drop the ladies off at the stone step. Ah! Such elegant days . . . The friend’s home I stayed at has three in the yard. I told her that the yard must’ve been some odd bus stop for carriages.

Not a lot has changed in that neighborhood. The Kwik Stop is still up the street and there’s still about 50 brands of cigarettes I’ve never heard of in my life being sold there from cardboard barrels – probably so kids can steal ’em easier. They also have an impressive collection of knives and swords in prominent display over a new fancy ice cream cooler. Whoa. All this is clever marketing, but I’m not sure I approve.

Junior’s Foodland is still down the street, which thrills me to no end! In a world where corporations are trying to run every last little guy out of business, it was sheer joy to walk into that tiny little grocery store . . . you know the kind. The kind that smell like a tiny grocery store because they’ve got a butcher shop in the back. Junior’s Foodland also specializes in fresh fried chicken. I was happy to see chicken wings smashed into the black asphalt of the parking lot. Again, some things, thankfully, never change.

I skated past MTSU (Middle Tn State University). I took part of one class there once. The day I was supposed to pith a live frog for Biology class, I walked out the door, never to return. I rolled in figure 8’s in the parking lot of The Boro Bar and Grill, the only first bar I’ve ever been kicked out of. I skated up to Oakland’s Mansion, which sits at the end of my old street and read about Nathan Bedford Forrest’s attack on the Union army back in 1863. (Gosh, I don’t even think I knew about that when I lived there . . . !)

I rolled past my old place enough times that I eventually ran into the older dude who lives there now. He let me poke my head inside his part of the crumbling post Civil War mansion. The house itself is older and more dilapidated than when I lived there, but this guy takes much better care of the apartment than I did when I was a 17 year old kid living there alone. The peeled wallpaper has been patched and fixed. The horrific paint job I once gave to the grandiose 90 degree staircase has been amended. The old electric heater is the same.

The only thing that’s missing is the carriage stone that used to sit out front.