Editor Letter: “You Can’t Go Home Again”

Michele Walker, Orlando Magazine Editor, Photo By Roberto Gonzalez

Michele Walker, Orlando magazine editor (ROBERTO GONZALEZ)

This famous Thomas Wolfe title, “You Can’t Go Home Again,” has become a popular proverb, meaning what’s past remains in the past.

As someone who grew up in Orlando, my most precious childhood memories center on the holiday season. For example:

  • I can still feel the cold curb on my tush as I sat on Orange Ave. in the 1960s watching the Christmas parade. Dad always had to leave before events were over “to avoid the crazy traffic.” He made this one exception so his children wouldn’t miss seeing Santa Claus at the end of the parade.
  • I remember the joy of marching in that same parade years later, as a teenager when I joined Stonewall Jackson Junior High School’s marching band with our beloved leader and band director, Mr. J. J. Walden.
  • I have precious memories of attending Christmas eve services at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. We would go to the early service as a family, but the midnight mass was a father-daughter event, as we sang in the choir. Every year in between services, Dad and I sat together at the Dunkin’ Donuts counter while we each had a donut, and dad chugged his coffee.
  • Every season, our family would pile in our blue Ford and drive around Central Florida to enjoy the beautifully decorated homes. The season wasn’t official until we took that drive.

Many things have changed since 1966. The Orlando parade still happens every year, and it’s better than ever. Stonewall Jackson Junior High School is now Roberto Clemente Middle School, and our cherished band director passed away years before his time. Prince of Peace still stands on the corner of Semoran Blvd. and Curry Ford Road, and even the Dunkin’ Donuts is still there, albeit remodeled. And last year, my family continued the tradition and drove around Orlando and Winter Park to marvel at the lights. What a spectacle!

I hear the same quotes all the time: “Orlando is too big; too much change.” “I miss old Orlando.”

I understand, but I also realize that the past always looks better to us through our rose-colored glasses. It’s important to honor the past and hold it near to our hearts. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love Orlando today; how far Orlando has come, how it’s held on to what makes it unique, but the thing I love most is how it has become a city for all people.

It’s Orlando magazine’s December edition, which means it’s time for our ever-popular Doctors issue. The quality of medical care in our community is astounding. When I was growing up, if one wanted top-notch medical care, one would have to travel to Tampa, New York, or Baltimore. Now people flock to Central Florida to get the very best care.

We just held our mid-term elections last month and have chosen our leaders. Whether you identify as red, blue, or purple, we’re all Orlandoans. As we navigate through precarious times, no matter your party affiliation, it’s up to us to strive to be the peaceful nation our founding fathers and mothers intended. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

T. Michele Walker


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