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Thursday, 10 March 2011

For as long as I can remember—and, I imagine, as long as people far older than I can remember—this old, hand-painted wooden sign has stood at the top of the street where my parents live.

I think it was once suspended between two white posts rather than screwed to four-by-fours, but I can’t say for sure—the sign is just one of those things that’s always just…been there; I’ve never really paid much attention to  the details of it.

Not much has changed on Route 6A over the years; there is no garish sort of “you can’t go home again,” with plazas and neon signs and big box stores—none of that is allowed here. If you were here once, twenty or twenty-five years ago, and returned today, you probably wouldn’t notice a single difference. The change is subtle, barely perceptible, but change nonetheless.

My friend Natalie and I used to walk to Sandwich Pizza House in the afternoon to watch General Hospital and flirt with the waiters. There was a shop along the way—I can’t remember its name—selling penny candy and vaguely off-color books & cards and seaside kitch, as these places often do. We would stop in on our walk, to get out of the sun. It was a high-end real estate office for a while; now it is empty, with a rental sign out front.


When Julia was a month and a half old, we came out from Buffalo to stay with my parents for a few weeks. Turning off Route 6A toward their house, it occurred to me that eventually someone was going to take that sign down, and that when that happened I wanted to have a record that it had once existed. So I walked up through the snow one afternoon and took a few pictures of it.

My mother said, recently: “I’m glad you took that picture when you did. They took down the sign and put up a replica. It’s vinyl.”

If you were here once, twenty or twenty-five years ago, and returned today, you probably wouldn’t notice a difference. Hell, if you drove by a just few years ago you might not notice it. The change is subtle—by design, of course—but change nonetheless. And it’s vinyl. It’s similar to what was there before…but at the same time, it’s so different.

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