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Welcome home!

Another annual Homestead Festival and another influx of past, present and former Princeton residents tromping, traveling and taking a stroll through town.

How does it feel to be home? Yes, I know “home” is where you live now, but in a strange and almost mystical way, this will always be “home,” won’t it?

For those folks who grew up here and who get that strange yet familiar feeling when you cross the railroad tracks at the north end of town, Princeton will always be your hometown. Whether you strayed from the area and now live elsewhere; whether you’re a returning letterman who left once and now have returned to the area; or maybe you never left at all ... Princeton holds a host of memories that have intertwined themselves with the present and will ultimately touch the future too. Like it or not, there’s no escape ... Princeton is in your blood to stay, regardless of where you now call home.

So now that you’re back in town, I’d be interested to know what you’re feeling. You can’t help compare the town to the way it was the last time you were here, regardless of how many years have passed. No doubt, you’ll be seeing the new and the old. You’ll long for what used to be, and if you’ll allow yourself the pleasure, you’ll applaud the progress we’ve made. You’ll see the changes, and you’ll point to the familiar.

There will be moments when you’ll find yourself amused with the memories, and perhaps there will even be a time or two when something will cause a familiar lump to form in your throat. As you drive around town, your mind will race through the memories, lingering at times on those you hold most dear. Tears, laughter, indifference, good memories and bad, “remember when ...” repeating itself over and over again, a stroll up and down Memory Lane that will always a remain a part of who you were and ultimately who you are now too.

And then you’ll see the faces ... after all, they’re the most important part of why you came. Faces that look the same but oftentimes very different too. Those different faces will match bodies that have changed as well — a few more pounds, a little less hair, receding and graying hair, faces that ironically look like your friends’ parents. Hhhmmm ... could it be?

But after a few uncomfortable and nervous exchanges, I guarantee you’ll pick up right where you left off umpteen years ago. After all, the heart doesn’t forget what you once shared. You’ll talk about the “good old days,” and you’ll be amazed how far everyone has come. You’ll catch up quickly, knowing there is so much to learn in such a short time. And before you know it, you’ll wonder where the weekend went ... and more importantly, you’ll wonder where the years have gone. There will be more laughter, more tears, hugs and promises made to keep in touch. You’ll wave good-bye, and inside, you’ll wonder how many more good-byes there will be ...

While many have made homes in other faraway places, the annual Homestead Festival gives you the opportunity to return to what’s familiar, even if it has changed. It will cause you to remember, to reflect, to reminisce and to recall a place in time that will forever be a part of who you are, regardless of where you are now.

This is your hometown, folks. Enjoy every minute, every face, every word. Embrace it for safe-keeping in your heart. Have a great time ... And please, let me be the first to say it ... Welcome Home!

BCR Editor Terri Simon can be reached at tsimon@bcrnews.com. You can also follow Simon on her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bcrnews.tsimon. Simon will be signing her book, “Grandma’s Cookie Jar” next to Princeton’s Prouty Building — from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday and from noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday.

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