Sunday, June 1, 2014

Hermitage Recreation- Part Two

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Hermitage Recreation- Part Two

Trout Island Rails to Trails is a shaded walk, too, along the Shenango River, past the dam and by the reservoir. Well, technically, this trail is not in Hermitage, but neighboring Sharpsville. Since Hermitage used to be Hickory Township and really the country for the cities and towns, she is close to them all. Actually, Sharpsville is closer to me than the other trails I will write about later.
July has opened with rain and cool, with the water gathering the rain clouds to feel physically darker. Our first full month of summer has not allowed the sun so far. I have pictures of earlier walks on the Trout Island Rails to Trails, so I work with bird in hand.
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As I walk along the Trout Island trail, I find myself imaging David Thompson’s sons, Eward and Seth exploring these woods by the Shenango River. I observe the trees and know from their size, they were planted less than a hundred years ago. Yet, they give that wilderness, timeless aura. I think of Felicia, their little sister, who died when she was eleven. For some reason, I see her drowning, not here in the Shenango River, but close in the Pine Hollow Creek. It would be just down the hill from Mt. Hickory. She probably died of some common childhood disease and was not the tomboy, adventurous girl I imagine, but that’s what makes great story.
As I think of little boys on this trail, my mind wanders to Jerry and Dave, my father and his brother. They grew up farther south on the Shenango in West Middlesex. But they swam in this river and played hard all summer in the woods and yards of West Middlesex. I think of the JT stories I will write some day, too.
 I think of great Uncle Dave taking all my dad’s cousins hiking, camping and swimming. He would have told them the names of flowers and plants and the critters. The swimming upset him, Cousin Becky wrote, as she thinks he was with his little brother, John, when he ImageImageImageImageImageImagedrowned. Uncle Dave only took her once to the river, as she went under one too many times.
The Thompson’s on Dad’s side didn’t talk of the dead, so to get stories about them has been hard for Becky. She relied on what her older brother, Howard, could tell her and his son, Gary, one of the oldest of the grandchildren of that generation, could remember. History lost in the grave. Oh, if graves could talk.
The last time I walked the Trout Island trail, I finished it by walking up the street to the Riverside Cemetery in Sharpsville. I saw Mary Thompson’s sister’s grave near the Pierce family site. This Mary Thompson is on my mother’s side, her mother’s great grandmother. I drove on out to Clark to take pictures of the other Thompson’s and Mary’s parents’ Margaret and Edward Campbell’s grave. As I strolled through the withering tombstones, I could feel the community in which Mary lived. Another sister, Anna Fruit’s family is buried out here and many of the Koonce’s. Other names familiar from Mom’s stories stare at me from the markers. The scene from Our Town, of the dead sitting in chairs comes to mind.
I love the history of our Valley. Tomorrow, I will write about the trail at our historical society, pictures in the rain, if I must. We have history in Hermitage, too.
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