Home I’ll Never Be

Here are pics of Medora, IL. The town use to be a bustling hub between Chicago and St. Louis with half-dozen rail lines/switch points and three or four hotels serving the town. Today there is one rail line and all the hotels have been torn down. The last one ripped down this past year leaving an empty lot where it stood. Medora is a story of America. Small to moderate-sized towns that once thrived are now being abandoned and some are almost ghost towns. Unfortunately, Medora is becoming the latter. I know about Medora because it is a heritage town for my family. My grandfather wired the first house in the town to have electricity – his mother’s. My great-grandfather built the rail lines running there. When he became too sick with liver cancer to work, his sons propped him under a tree so he could supervise and then did his work so he could collect the pay. The last relative I know to still be in the town died a couple of years ago. Like I said, a ghost town. Now there are only two businesses that I saw left in the town and that is Milner’s Grocery and a repair shop a couple blocks away. Three if you count the Post Office.

Keith Milner of Milner’s Grocery saw us taking pictures when we stopped on our August trip and came out to chat. We talked about 30 minutes. He showed us some really amazing and really old pictures of Medora in its heyday. The streets were lined with cars and business was booming. He was very nice. Years ago when I stopped there (we never met then) his store was pretty bustling. This time around, very few customers and the freezers were empty. I could see the sadness and reluctant recognition in his eyes of what Medora was becoming. He was a nice man and I wish him and his family the best. Here are just a couple of photos I snapped that day followed by the song from On The Road that Kerouac says hobos and workmen use to sing. It mentions “Ol’ Medora” although whether that is Medora, IL or the one in North Dakota, I can’t say being it is a half-century before my time. Either place would fit though.



Mr. Milner and I in front of his store



The road into town. The water tower in the distance and the vacant lot to the right is where the last hotel stood.




Mr. Milner talking to me. His store is the main intersection in town. Across the street is an old flag pole. My great-uncle once told me how when WWI ended there was a huge parade there. Within in a year, the town was decimated by the Swine Flu Pandemic.




Well, I left New York in nineteen forty-nine

To go across the country, without a dad-blame dime(1)

Montana in the cold cold fall

I found my father in a gamblin’ hall

Father, father, where have you been?

I’ve been out in the world since I was only ten

Father, father, where have you been?

I’ve been out in the world since I was only ten

Don’t worry about me, about to die of pleurisy

Cross the Mississippi, cross the Tennessee

Cross the Niagara, home I’ll never be

Home in ol’ Medora, home in ol’ Truckee(2)

Apalachicola, home I’ll never be

For better or for worse, or thick and thin

I’ve been married to the little woman

God he loves me, like I love him

I want you to do just the same for him

Well, the worms eat away

But don’t worry, watch the wind

So I left Montana on an old freight train

The night my father died in the cold cold rain

Rode to Opelousas, rode to Wounded Knee

Rode to Ogallala, home I’ll never be

Rode to Oklahoma, rode to El Cajon(3)

Rode to old Tehatchapi(4), rode to San Antone

Hey! Hey!

Rode to Opelousas, rode to Wounded Knee

Rode to Ogallala, home I’ll never be

Rode to Oklahoma, rode to El Cajon

Rode to old Tehatchapi, rode to San Antone

Home I’ll never be

Home I’ll never be

Home I’ll never be

Categories: books, Entertainment, Everyday Life, Food, history, movies, Politics, travel, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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