March 04, 2009 Edition

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Time and
distance

Bernard Duckworth
Guest Writer

It is said that the Europeans think that 100 miles is a long distance, and the Americans think that 100 years is very old. This seems true.

When I was growing up in Black Rock, we lived about a mile north of the Oak Forest Cemetery. I believe at the intersection of Highway 117 and the Cemetery Road there stood an old house that was supposed to be almost 100 years old and one of the first houses in Black Rock. I do not think that anyone was living there by then.

That was impressive for me, especially because Black Rock had been incorporated shortly before 1900. However, after living in Europe for a couple of years, I have a different feeling for old.

When I go to town here and walk down the street, I see several buildings that date from the early 1400s and were in use (and still are) before Columbus sat out to discover the New World. The buildings have been modernized several times over the centuries, but the faŤade has remained.

A couple of years ago my family and I were on vacation in South Tyrol, a German speaking area of Northern Italy. This area is especially known for its vineyards, apple orchards and beauty. Many vineyards offer refreshments to people trekking through the foothills of the Dolomite Mountains and some offer rooms.

After a hike of several hours, we stopped at such a place before continuing on to our hotel. We had some dried ham, bread and red wine from the area and complimented the innkeeper on his impressive house. He told us that they had built the house a year before, but until then had lived in the building a few hundred feet away.

This building looked like a small fortress, and when I asked him about it, he said that his family had built the house in the year 1156. He took us down and showed us the house, which is still being used for various things.

The phrase Old Europe takes on a different meaning in such cases, and I had to think about the old house in Black Rock.

Bernard Duckworth, a native of Black Rock and member of the BRHS Class of 1957, served in the U.S. Army from 1958-1961. He is an independent consultant and has been living in Europe since 1970. He and his wife have three children. Send comments to him via The Times Dispatch at tdnews@thetd.com.

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