Return to Boonville

This is a story of a place, of joy and regret, and of a deed so romantic and so rare as to border on the fantastical.

In the early fall of 1955, my father, a physician who had just completed an internship and a year of residency in family practice, moved our growing family from Pennsylvania to Boonville, North Carolina.  The town desperately needed a doctor and had offered my father help in several ways to entice him to move south.  At that time I was six months past my fourth birthday, the oldest of what would eventually be six children, and I can remember waking at dawn in Boonville after our all-night drive, sitting up, breathing in a wonderfully strange scent of unfamiliar flowers and fields, and staring at the house we would rent while my grandfather, a carpenter, built a home for us.

By the time I was six, that home was finished, standing on six acres within a short walk of the small town, and I entered a magical part of my life.  For the next seven years my siblings, my friends, and I spent our summers exploring the woods around the house, walking or riding our bikes through the town, and playing during inclement weather in the large playroom in the basement of the house.  In the summers we played roll-the-bat and badminton on the lawn beside the house, fought out the Civil War in the woods behind the house, and roamed the “Black Forest,” a large stand of pines running into yet more...

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