Yesterday, I had to take a jaunt back up to my hometown, Millersburg, PA. My aunt and uncle are getting on in years, and due to health challenges, they’re downsizing and moving into an assisted living facility in town. My aunt wanted me to come and pick up the Japanese dolls my mother had made during the time my father was stationed in Tokyo in the 1960s.
I arrived in “the ‘Burg” about an hour earlier than expected, so I decided to make my usual rounds before going out to my aunt’s house.
The first place I stopped was along the river. Even when I still lived here, this was one of my favorite places to hang out. During the summer, there are swings out along the riverfront, and I’d often sit in one and read, draw, think, or just enjoy the beauty of the river. Of course, it being the beginning of March, yesterday was a bit too chilly to spend much time there, but I still enjoyed a brisk walk and got a few photos.
Aside from the geese, and the very occasional other person strolling the river front, there wasn’t much activity, and everything seemed to be waiting for Spring to come.
There was one scene that part of me found a bit humorous, yet at the same time seemed a bit creepy and piqued my writer’s mind, so I snapped a picture of it:
From the river, I drove up to Oak Hill Cemetery. Yes, an odd choice of venue to most people, but I spent a good deal of time there during my teen years. I was bullied in middle and high school, and sometimes I just needed to get away from other people, and the cemetery seemed a good place to do it.
Back then, there was an older part of the cemetery, located between the main cemetery and the mausoleums that sat just off Race Street. I always assumed this part of the cemetery was where some of the original settlers might have been buried, because the graves were old and difficult to read even then. When I visited recently, however, I didn’t see these old plots in the place I remembered them. This time as I drove through, I saw a bunch of headstones gathered in an odd location.
Not sure what the story is, but I’m wondering if the ground may have settled, making it necessary to move the old graves. Again, it’s a scene that made my writer’s mind begin percolating.
From there I made my way to my aunt’s house, where she took me to her doll room (I should have gotten a few pictures of that). My aunt was, at one time, an avid doll and teddy bear collector. She belonged to the local Doll Club, and she enjoyed showing her dolls and doll houses, some of which she made herself.
As I stated at the beginning of this piece, the dolls she was passing along to me were Japanese dolls that my mom made in classes over in Tokyo when my dad was stationed there. In all honesty, I’ve never been a huge fan of these dolls. They made me uneasy when I was little, and two of them downright terrified me, as I thought they seemed to watch my every move. My aunt couldn’t remember all the names of these dolls, if they all even had names.
The doll in the red kimono is one that my mom made and had sent over to my aunt. The others belonged to my mom, but at some point she gave them to my aunt for her Doll Club shows, and that’s where they’ve been until now. In the 24 hours I’ve had the dolls in my possession I’ve actually grown quite fond of the one that is kneeling. She seems almost alive to me, and she feels like a kind soul.
These dolls portray Kabuki actors. These are the dolls I feared as a child, and I’m still not overly fond of them. Even my son says the eyes follow him.
And so my house is now graced by a piece of my parents’ history. At least one of the dolls will find its way to another relative, so that we can all appreciate and remember Mom’s creative side, but for now I have a doll-filled living room.