There’s no place like home

Published 9:11 am Monday, June 12, 2017

BY Howard Coop

Who remembers Johnny Cash, the popular country music singer, singing words he wrote, “Well, I feel so homesick I wanna go home?”

While I have vague memories of Cash singing that hit song of 1959, I do have vivid memories of being so homesick I wanted to go home and did. After graduating from high school, I began a summer job that promised so much and gave so little.  That job took me to the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, a place strange to me. I worked for a commission rather than a salary, and after about six weeks, I was making just enough to pay my expenses. Hopes for college vanished, and I became homesick, so homesick I went home.

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I’ll never forget my arrival. The house was empty, and I walked over the hill toward the barn. Everyone was working in “the cane patch.” Immediately, my youngest brother looked up and, when he saw me, he yelled, “Willie Howard is home!”  Then, throwing his hoe down, he ran up the hill to me, threw his arms around me, and wept with joy.

Thinking of that experience, I remember a famous line Robert Frost, the New England poet, wrote: “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” I have said that the poet missed the point, for home is the place where, when you have to go there, they welcome you because of love.

In everyday language, we use the words “house” and “home” interchangeably, but they are different. John Henry Jowett made an apt distinction between the two:  “A house,” he wrote, “is an agglomeration of bricks and stones, with an assorted collection of manufactured goods.”  But, he went on to say, “A home is the abiding place of ardent affection, of fervent hope, of genial trust.”

John Howard Payne got it right when he wrote, “Be it ever so humble there’s no place like home.”