Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Ruins at Rockingham

The remains of the walls of the old, 5-story mill look like ancient ruins. Located just off US 74 in Rockingham, NC, they always remind me of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece.

I first saw the ruins over 50 years ago on trips to see my grandmother who lived in the area. The walls were more intact in the ‘60s, but even then I’d notice that chunks or whole sections would have fallen between my trips. Now, there’s only a couple of corners and part of one wall left.

On a trip to the area this week I noticed other landmarks that had changed; new businesses started, vacant lots where houses used to be, big changes to the small downtown area.

Native Americans often believe things have memories; what we see as inanimate objects “remember” events and people and situations just as we do. Whether that’s true or not I won’t guess, but I do know I often think, “If this thing could talk what stories it would tell!”

The director of the Train Station and Depot Museum in nearby Hamlet took me on a tour of their facility and showed me a “dowry trunk.” Years ago, a bride would collect linen, china and other items that were important to her, that would make a home her idea of a home, and fill a trunk/trunks and when she married she’d take the trunk with her to her new home. The museum has a wonderful old dowry trunk and you can’t touch it without wondering what the young woman and her life was like.

Leaving the past behind is almost always a healthy exercise, but it’s often instructive to look back and remind ourselves of the lessons we’ve learned. As philosopher George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Whenever I see the ruins of the old mill I marvel at the changes in the area and in life since I first saw them. I think less about the mistakes I’ve made and more about how far I’ve come. Take a moment and try that exercise this weekend.

See you on Monday.

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