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Reconnecting with my hometown

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The articles spill out of two large ring binders, stories about the present that bring me face-to-face with my past.

There's the story about an 80-year-old who mows the grass as part of his civic commitment to an Adopt-a-Spot intersection near where I grew up; another about plans to rebuild the zoo, with its unforgettable monkey-ship entrance; a third describing the excitement over a youth ice-hockey tournament in this basketball-crazed part of the world.

From a thousand miles away, I've brought my hometown of Evansville, Ind., back into my life, devouring news from the website edition of the local newspaper.

I've been delighted by stories about Main Street loft dwellers helping to revive downtown and saddened by the high level of teen binge drinking and moonshine-style methamphetamine "labs."

I've applauded efforts to bring more foot and car traffic to Main Street and cringed that a casino is now a centerpiece of the city's economy.

I've marveled at how the faces of today's Middle America are no longer just white and black. And slowly, subtly, as I sort out the present by reconnecting to the past, I've come to understand how different my perspective of community has become.

It's been 33 years since I last lived in Evansville, a dozen since I last visited and my parents moved to California. As my son entered his teen years, I started thinking more about my own. It was time to "drop in" on my hometown, which hugs the banks of the Ohio River near where Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois converge.

As a child I'd plunge into the sports pages of the home-delivered Courier and red-striped evening Press, which Dad, a stockbroker, bought to get the day's closing prices. Now, with a click of a computer mouse I visit, the cyberspace home of the combined Courier & Press.


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