are probably more than a few streets, roads and ways across the
United States with Armistice in the name. But a quick and incredibly
unthorough search reveals that only Pawtucket, Rhode Island, seems
to have a boulevard. And itís a boulevard I know well.
I havenít been on Armistice Boulevard in roughly two decades.
How long is two decades? WellÖ twenty years is essentially the
rough estimate used to define a generation. Much like my dedicated
efforts in finding boulevards though, the reality is that the
actual length of time is slightly longer and varies depending
on what types of math you wish to do. SoÖ for our purposesÖ considerÖ
the span of a generation weíve lost the definition of the word
armistice. And I say that simply because Iíd be willing to bet
that if you approached a group of people, each about twenty years
younger than I am, youíd find that the majority couldnít tell
you the meaning of the word armistice. Itís not their fault. The
word simply isnít used as regularly as it once was. (It also isnít
the reason for this tangent.)
havenít been there in twenty or so years. And the point is, thatís
a long time.
I bet I could do a fairly decent job of navigating most of it.
My grandparents lived in Pawtucket, and after getting off of the
highway we used Armistice Boulevard for the major length of the
last legs necessary to arrive at their house. Head through some
neighborhoods and houses, past a plaza and to a section with storefronts
until we cross Newport Avenue, then back into rows of houses before
making those final turns into a driveway.
visual landmarks of buildings arenít the same anymore. Not even
close. Restaurants and shops have closed. Some of been remodeled
and opened under new ownership. Iím guessing a few have been torn
itís Armistice Boulevard. And as long as thereís an entry to Slater
Park located along its path, I should recognize it (and it will
hold a special place in my memories).
thatís the trick.
much as I could find my way into Slater Park without using a GPS
or needing any refresher directions, there are a handful of other
places that have special meaning to me. And there are places that
would be immediately familiar even if much of the familiar has
so often I wonder why certain places throughout my life have created
such solid and lasting impressions while others havenít. Itís
not always a case of excessive repetition.
I was driving near the campus of the college I attended. I drove
an ambulance around that campus, and used to know the roads so
well I could not only rattle off the names of road after road,
but also could predict where street numbers would be located.
I donít even think it would be much of an argument that I knew
the major roads and surrounding neighborhoods significantly better
than I ever knew Armistice Boulevard. ButÖ
my destination on that day, I wasnít certain of the turn I needed
to make. I actually felt a bit lost, and ended up letting the
GPS guide me.
the comparison isnít fair. In addition to people painting their
homes and businesses changing, the reality is that many unpredictable
changes take place over decades. Streets allowing two-way traffic
flow might be adjusted to one-way onlyÖ roundabouts might be addedÖ
Iíve even seen roads closed completely to vehicular traffic, including
places where Iíve often driven in the past that are now pedestrian
a crazy old expression about being able to drive with your eyes
closed. Maybe that would help, as the recognizable sights in so
many places that I have known over the years arenít the same.
That doesnít change how right it feels to see them again. From
a drive down a main road to a bike ride in certain parks to a
walk across campus. The sights change. The feeling remains.
Boulevard. I remember it well.