I will always remember our Halloween this past Friday in Parnassus. Why? Two reasons:
1.) We got over 200 trick-or-treaters at our house, just like last year and the year before that.
2.) This was our newest nephew’s first Halloween. This boy might be the youngest resident of Parnassus.
You thought that I was going to list two negative things, didn’t you? After all, I live in Parnassus. Some bad things happened here in the last few months. People are scared right now. Even with the progress of the past month, I have some nervous neighbors. Also, it rained all night.
With all this, people still took their kids trick-or-treating here. In the cold rain. My in-laws only get a handful of trick-or-treaters each year at their own house on the hill, so they came down to visit. We had a little party while we handed out candy, waiting for our guys as they did a safety patrol for the fire department. My sister-in-law Marissa showed off her baby to the neighbors. Later, her father rocked the little boy to sleep in the room where Marissa got engaged to her husband two years ago on Christmas Eve.
While brings me to Good Thing No. 2: Our nephew just started his life here. The future of Parnassus already lives here.
Last year, I blogged about Jeffrey Simpson’s Parnassus memoir, “American Elegy: A Family Memoir.” Simpson wrote about his memories of spending time in Parnassus as a young child, and his memories from his last trip here. He wrote in the last chapter:
“Parnassus was gone, finally. Its name having been taken away sixty years before when it was consolidated with New Kensington, it had now decayed into a slum, the big old wooden houses partly veneered in garish sidings of purple, sky blue, and dirty pink, when I made the pilgrimage up the river one afternoon and drove through town under a lurid, thundery sky.”
I disagreed, and still disagree.
Parnassus exists very much for some of us. For instance, my sister-in-law Marissa and I both spent much time here when we dated our husbands. We both posed for photos here on our wedding days. We both set up the first homes of our married lives here. Now, Marissa’s son begins his childhood here. He will have his own memories of the neighborhood and the people in it. He will see the way that these people treat each other. What if he eventually writes his own Parnassus memoir? What will he say?
Places matter because people matter.