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Helene R. Lee: Easter at Broadway Market is a trip down memory lane

Contemplating my family’s annual Easter trek to the Broadway Market, I know that this will be another trip down memory lane for me. After all, this is the area where I grew up surrounded by a loving family and a neighborhood where children could play safely outdoors.

This memorization centers on a home that I remember well, including my introduction to it when I was about 2 years old. Beginning with the staircase that appeared enormous to me, I declined help in climbing the 20 steps to our second-floor apartment.

For 12 years, that stairway was my entrance into a life-evolving kitchen and exited into an insular world, where I played in our yard in the warm summer sun on sweet-smelling grass, and inhaled the heavenly aroma of Grandma’s colorful roses and lilac bushes and tasted the juicy grapes she grew for her homemade wine.

That stairway saw my feet flying up, enticed by tantalizing smells of Mom’s baking, and down, to answer Grandma’s call to run to the grocer for some item. At Christmastime, the stairs were littered with pine needles dropped by the tree that Grandpa dragged upstairs to two impatient little girls.

The stairs felt my rush upward, waving a report card from St. Adalbert’s School anticipating my parents’ smiles, and withstood the trampling of my giggling girlfriends running up like a herd of elephants, or so Mom said. Congregating in the living room, we had much to discuss at a time when life was simpler, and stretched out before us for eons.

That first turn in the stairway, a triangular landing, afforded just enough room for two to sit. That’s where the stairway witnessed my first kiss. It became our special place, a boyfriend and me, until Dad flicked the overhead light off and on. Our few minutes of privacy were over.

As I write these words, I can picture the house where I grew up until ready for high school, but then I know that times have changed so much of what was, and what is the reality.

Although that stairway always represented a connection between my safe haven and the outside world, there came a time when simply looking up a staircase, whether four steps or 20, became daunting. These are the times when I think: “Will my knees hold up?” I no longer decline help from others or a handrail.

Last year, on our way to the market, I once more pointed out the “markers” in my old neighborhood to my family. We use two or three vehicles to hold my children, adult grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and a cellphone helps me to point out my old church, school and other fondly remembered places.

I asked one of my daughters to drive down the street of my youth hoping to see how the house had survived “time.” I felt a sadness fall over me as I searched for number 126. The home I loved was gone – an empty lot now stood in its place. I guess you can’t go home again.

But there is still the Broadway Market, a place where I recall a time when it bustled with live poultry, and friends and neighbors greeting one another. I hope it will thrive and remain a place where my family for years to come will share the memories of their mother and grandmother, and my memories become their memories.

Helene R. Lee, who lives in Lockport, enjoys her annual visit to the Broadway Market and the neighborhood where she grew up.