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Without the heart, it's just a house
Jordye Bacon house demolition provokes nostalgia
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A demolition worker takes down remnants of the home that once belonged to Jordye Bacon Friday afternoon. - photo by Danielle Hipps

History, history, history. 

Whether it presents itself through tales rich with conflict and love or faded sephia photographs or artifacts dug from the soil, history is one of the finer things in life.

Since moving from an area in central Florida where most local "history" equates to remembering when citrus groves predated CVS stores, I've come to appreciate the strong historical tradition here in Liberty County. 

On Friday, I had a chance brush with history when my editor, Hollie, asked me to run out and take pictures of the demolition of the house that once belonged to Jordye Bacon on Highway 84. 

While I was snapping away, a man approached me and asked if I was from the paper. 

"I'm the one who called," Perry Neely said. "This was my grandmother's house." 

A wave of emotions washed over me as Neely recalled spending summers in the house, playing wiffle ball with his cousins in the back yard that "seemed like a massive field" and sock-sliding on the home's slick floors. 

Not only is the house one of personal significance to Neely, but it also was home to a historical educational figure who pioneered women's roles in the county. 

Standing with Neely as he watched a home that stored a life's worth of memories tumble, piece by piece, reminded me of my own family history. 

My parents both left their original homes in search of sun and fun, and I was raised in a great melting pot where nobody is supposed to be a native. But I identify strongly with my mom's hometown, Hamilton, Ohio. My great-grandmother's three-story house with a brick facade is the only place that I have visited at least once in every year of my life. It's where I charmed family friends by singing my toddler rendition of "Achey Breaky Heart" into a flashlight. It's where I fluttered with excitement when I heard there were deer in the yard, even though I only caught a glimmer of them in passing. It's where my Nonnie, well into her '90s, shared her life story with me, and where my aunts and grandparents gathered during the holidays. It's where my cousins -- now from six years old to my age -- played our own games of wiffle ball in the back yard, mindful not to stub our toes where I stubbed mine as a youngster. 

Standing there with Neely brought back the sadness I felt when I said my goodbye to the house last November, about two months before my Nonnie passed away at 103. 

I don't share this story to dampen the progress of the community, but rather to relate to those who long for familiar sights of the past -- and to celebrate the fact that this Liberty County has such a strong sense of the bonds between past and present. Now let's maintain them as we move to the future. 

"It's like the end of a chapter," Neely said as he walked away from the house Friday. "But not completely -- because we still have our memories."

You can find more on the house and Neely's memories in Wednesday's Courier.

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