When I was in Natchez, Mississippi, recently, I went to see the house where I grew up. It was a beautiful house with copper in the kitchen and marble in the bathrooms. It was set on three acres across a bridge from an antebellum home. The owners of the antebellum home built it for their daughter to live in. Then she sold the house to my parents.
My mother told me (six weeks before she died) that she had been her happiest in her life living there, so I had to go back and see it.
What a shock when I got there though. The current owners have let it go into disrepair and have mowed down all my mothers' azaleas, dogwoods, trees and flowers. About four or five crappy cars are in the drive, and the place looks like a wreck.
The back yard was impassable -- the weeds had turned into mini-trees of five feet high. We'd had so many fun times in the back on the swingset or just running around shouting at each other. And now you can't even go back there.
There was a beautiful gallery with a fan window, and then I saw that someone had stuck an ugly old air-conditioning unit into one of the glass panes. Sacrilege!
A neighbor saw us parked outside the cul-de-sac and walked over to see who we were. When I explained I was just getting a picture of my childhood home to send to my brothers so they could see the horrible neglect for themselves, he shook his head sadly and agreed that the current owners had let the place go.
"Times sure do change," he said. Then I thought -- they certainly do. Here it was a Monday afternoon, and this man wasn't working, and I smelled alcohol on his breath.
I thought that I too would have probably had to have a nip if I didn't have a job and afternoons can be so long and slow to pass with nothing to do.
When I was a kid and Natchez had some manufacturing plants nearby, he would have had a job. But now there's not as much left there in the way of employment -- so yes, times have changed.