Windham township, with a population of eight hundred and ten white souls, was nestled uncomfortably deep within the Endless Mountains, and it hadn’t changed a bit since I left thirty years prior. It still came with a layer of ash on anything that sat for more than a few hours, and it still featured the pungent aroma of sauerkraut, both of which came from the paper mill across the Susquehanna River.
No one ever looked up the history of Windham, and no one was ever curious about the ten best things to do when visiting the place. The town was on no one’s list of the nicest, safest or prettiest places to visit. The only list it did frequent was that of towns you could most readily find meth being manufactured.
Next to the paper mill, meth manufacture was the largest employer of the county.
Unlicensed massage parlors that offered a happy ending ran a close third.
Windham’s main street ran parallel to the town’s single creek, a tributary to the Susquehanna River. It was a winding strip of grey asphalt through dirtied snow, heaped in large chunks by the township’s snow plow. Homes were lined upon either side, each one aged and in some state of disrepair. Most of them had one too many cars and one too many rusting children’s toys in the driveway.
There were no children in Windham. I wasn’t sure if there ever had been.
The further I drove toward my childhood home, the more nauseated I became. It had been thirty years since I had seen the place and if circumstances hadn’t dictated my return, it would have happily been another thirty.
As it happened, my return coincided with my father’s death.
So, it wasn’t all bad.