10 February 2003


On Sunday, as we were driving out of West Memphis, it started snowing. Big, hard, impressive, hard-to-see-through snow.

Instead of cutting through the neighborhood where our families live and jumping on the interstate, Sonya suggested we drive down the length of Broadway to the bridge. I don't know why she said that; maybe she just wanted to watch the snow fall for a while before we got on the interstate. I thought it was a pretty cool idea, though.

Broadway, to put it mildly, is not what it used to be. I'm not sure it was ever what it used to be. When I was little kid Broadway looked pretty much like it does now: run down, but fairly busy. Most of the businesses are liquor stores, gas stations, auto parts places, second-rate used car dealerships and discount stores. It's busy on weekdays and Saturdays, anyway; at night and on Sundays it's a big empty strip of nothin'.

So, Sunday morning and it's a big empty strip of nothin' on Broadway and we're driving slowly along, gawking at an amount of snow that neither of us has seen in three years or so. We were down on the eastern end of town, getting towards the bridge, when we stopped at the light at Walker and Broadway. This is just a few blocks from where I grew up on White Street.

We were the only car at the intersection. I looked around through the falling snow. Here was the gas station where my grandfather would go and talk to his buddies that ran the place. There was the sad little hamburger place that made such tasty burgers. Down a bit was the liquor store where my mom had worked briefly. Across the street was the grocery store my grandparents had always gone to, long since shuttered and abandoned.

"Damn," I said, "this part of town doesn't fucking change. It could be ten years ago. Or twenty. It could be fucking 1980 - it looked just like this then!"