Hometown: The town or city of one’s birth, rearing, or main residence; the place where you grew up or have lived for a long time; where you are currently living.

An invitation to the Thumm family’s annual August corn picnic at their Newark, Ohio, home. Courtesy of Margie Thumm

So, where do I call my hometown?

I see Maine as my home state, having lived here for the past 33 years. When I go over the Piscataqua River from New Hampshire on I-95, I feel a sense of being home.

Gorham was my home for 17 years. I raised my children there and made many friends through school, sports and church activities. If I still resided there I believe I would consider it my hometown. Raymond is where I have lived for the past 16 years, but alas, I’ll be moving from here in the next few years. I feel at home in Raymond, but it doesn’t feel like my hometown.

So, where do I call my hometown?

The connection that rings true for this sacred-sounding designation is where I grew up, in Newark, Ohio. There I learned to ride a two-wheeler, sang in the church choir and roller-skated the concrete sidewalks to friends’ houses. Barbara lived across the street, Alberta was a block away on King Avenue and Julie was a short walk away. I caught crawdads in Raccoon Creek under the 21st Street bridge and captured fireflies on a summer night to put in a jar by my bed.

Corn was one of the featured crops in our family’s garden, and we had an annual August corn picnic for friends. I counted the ears of corn and bare cobs that Don L. and Farmer MacDonald ate in the corn-eating contest. Summer day camps for Girl Scouts at Dawes Arboretum or Moundbuilders Park. Swim lessons in the cold water at the municipal pool. Swimming at Spring Valley where, at the end of one summer night, we rode home in the backseat of our Willys Jeepster, top down, with our newly acquired dog, Rusty, between my brother and me.

I walked the uneven brick sidewalks along Granville Street to Woodside School for kindergarten through sixth grade. Those were the days when you came home for lunch, so this 20-minute walk each way was done twice a day. There were the “Gym-Jams” at the YMCA every Friday and Saturday night for dancing. I biked to Central Junior High for seventh grade.

I lived in Maumee, Ohio, for grades eight through 11, with my family returning to Newark for my last year of high school. After heading off to college I returned to Newark for vacations. My folks lived the rest of their lives there. I visited them from my various places of residence over the years. I returned for my 50th-year reunion from high school and had a wonderful time connecting the pictures in my yearbook with the faces in front of me.

The 13 years I lived in Newark were not long, but they filled me with a sense of belonging, a grounding for the rest of my life. Newark, Ohio, my hometown.

 

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