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Continued: Looking for home in Louisville

  • Article by: LAURIE HERTZEL , Star Tribune
  • Last update: February 5, 2014 - 4:51 PM

Best part: time with friends

What does it mean to be from somewhere? What makes a place speak to you? I remembered the first time my parents went to China. My father had spent years studying Mandarin, first in the Army, and later with his students at the University of Wisconsin. I was in high school when they finally made it to Beijing. “When I got off the plane, I felt like I’d come home,” my father told me, and I never forgot that instant and intense connection he felt for a place he had never been.

I felt something similar the first time I went to Ireland. My grandmother was Irish, her people from County Kerry and the Midlands, and I had been drawn to that country even as a child. I remember poring over the Time-Life history of Ireland, which I got for Christmas when I was 10, and I remember flying into Shannon in 1989, looking down at all those patches of green and feeling a great contentment roll over me, as though broken parts were now fitted back together.

I had expected to feel something similar in Kentucky. I had wanted to feel something similar in Louisville, this place I had bragged about and claimed. But I didn’t. I liked it there; we had a great time; we ate good food and hiked at Bernheim Forest (which did not resonate), we poked around in museums and went to a Louisville Bats minor league baseball game and stood above the slow-moving Ohio River and looked across at Indiana. And, best of all, we spent time with friends.

But it was not my home. It was just a way-station in my life, the place where my mother happened to be pregnant, and where I happened to come kicking and screaming into the world precisely one month early, took my first breath, my first steps, and then — with the rest of the Hertzels — moved on.


Laurie Hertzel • 612-673-7302


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  • House or home? The author’s childhood home in Louisville appears much the same as it did when she lived there.

  • “My Old Kentucky Home”:  The Hertzel girls on the front steps of 100 Southwestern Pkwy. in Louisville, 1957.

  • Then:  Laurie Hertzel and her mother at Bernheim Forest, 1957.

  • Now:  Bernheim Forest was a favorite picnicking spot for the Hertzel family when they lived in Kentucky in the mid-1950s.

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