Home : Where I’m From – Mark Starlin – Medium

West Willow Subdivision

That’s me on the left and my brother Kenny on the right in our front yard in 1964. Photo: Connie Starlin

Where I’m from
men came to work in the factories
northerners and southerners lived together in the same neighborhood
and worked together in the same plant
building the machines that allowed the American way of life
the machines of transportation and status, the automobile

Where I’m from
the factory where Rosie The Riveter built B29 Liberator Bombers
still cast a shadow on our neighborhood
and later expanded to employed my father 
to paint Corvairs

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain
Howard R. Hollem, Public domain

Where I’m from
you could wave to pilots landing at the airport by the factory
as they flew low over your house
you would sit on your roof for summer airshows
and watch The Blue Angels soar over your head
followed seconds later by their sound

Where I’m from
you knew your neighbors
parents said, “go outside and play.”
children played until the street lights came on
the signal to come home

Where I’m from
streets were named after car companies
Studebaker, Desoto, Buick, Chevrolet
each lined with rows of similar small houses
built to house blue collars

Where I’m from
you walked to the neighborhood school
or rode your bike
and lived for recess

Where I’m from
you ran the neighborhood
then you ran home to get change
when you heard Gus the Ice Cream Man’s truck

Where I’m from
you walked up to the church on the corner on Sunday
and played in the field next to it Monday through Saturday
neighborhood sports in the summer
ice skating on a flooded-field rink in the winter

Where I’m from
you swam in an above-ground backyard pool
you learned to play guitar
you did homework after school before going out to play
you said please and thank you
you had birthday parties

One of my birthdays. Photo: Connie Starlin

Where I’m from
you sat outside in the shade
because the house was hot in the summer

Where I’m from
you had adventures
you did things you shouldn’t have and some you should
you learned to kiss on the next street over
you were bored, you had fun, you cried, you got in trouble,
you laughed, you learned, you grew

Where I’m from
you didn’t realize how evil people could be
you didn’t understand power and corruption and hate
you lived in innocence
you were allowed to be a child
you were loved

Where I’m from
the factory is now closed
so is the school
the neighbors who remain are elderly

Where I’m from
is still there
but no longer exists
except in fond memories


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