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Going Home

August 18, 2005

Thoughts From Dr. Joe by Dr. Joe Puglia

It's the story that ties us to a place; the countless memories of family, friends, church, community, and school.

But at center stage, the geography of our past is always interwoven with a human connection. It's people who give life to our stories.

Stories are built over time and their meaning is a product of duration touched by the human hand. That's how we develop a sense of place; living life, making memories and building relationships. Our quest to find a sense of place is the essence of the higher forms of literature.

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I love listening to the stories of my friends who grew up in La Cañada. This is especially true of my buddies Mike Rilley, Bill Decker and Mark Durkin. Those guys must have been a kick in the pants. The things they did running the streets of this town! Hearing their laughter and watching the nostalgia through their eyes tells me that they are rich in experience. When we gather at each other's homes, I watch as our children play and realize that their stories and their connections to home are slowly beginning to ferment. What they are doing is much more than play. Play is a conduit for life's experiences, life's experiences are the memories that help us connect to home, and home is where our story begins.

I hope that as our children grow older, they will say countless times, "Do you remember when?" Then they, too, will be rich.

As I write these words, I'm sitting on a bench in front of the Cadillac Bar in a small coal town in Western Pennsylvania, Uniontown. I was born here. I can walk the length of Main Street and tie my shoes and light a cigar in less than two minutes. Searching for better horizons, my family moved to New York City when I was weeks old. We found those horizons; but left behind aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Summers and holidays I'd find my way back to Uniontown and would run wild and raise hell in the hills of the Allegheny Mountains, finding myself and making connections. I grew up in New York City but my sense of family will always be Uniontown.

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