One of my friends once said to me–”It’s as if you had already been there before”. She was referring to Linden. According to my recent AncestryDNA results, there are indications that my ancestors traveled from Virginia, across Tennessee, and into Northeast Texas in the 1800s.
In the early 1970’s, when Eagles music first hit the airwaves, I was living on a street named Linden Avenue in Richmond VA. Approximately 40 years later, in September 2014, I found myself in Boston as the surprised winner of Don Henley’s Walden Woods Sweepstakes. I had become quite a fan of his music over the years and had much admiration for his environmental dedication, so I was elated to be able to attend this special event.
One year later, I was invited on a trip to Texas by friends that I had met through an unofficial Don Henley fan group on Facebook. It sounded like a fun adventure, and I’d get to finally meet my British friends and visit Don’s hometown with them, so I jumped at the chance! We stretched our 10 days of travel throughout East Texas–Dallas, Jefferson, Caddo Lake, and finally on to Linden.
The first thing I noticed was how welcoming everyone was upon our arrival. We were treated to a guided tour of the town and then invited to attend a pep rally and football game (a new experience for my friends) at Linden-Kildare, Don’s high school alma mater. On our final night in town, we enjoyed a pre-planned JD Souther show at the beautiful Music City Texas Theater.
On our flights back to our homes, we were overwhelmed by our unforgettable trip–seeing where our favorite musician had grown up and had his start, becoming acquainted with some of his childhood friends, and establishing special friendships that would ultimately last a lifetime. Sadly, my very first Linden friend has since passed. I think I left my heart behind the day I left Linden and never imagined, at the time, that I would ever see “her” (Linden) again.
Not long after our trip was over, a quartet of Linden natives decided it was time to come together for the good of their town and work on preserving the culture, the history, and the architecture; thus, the formation of the Linden Heritage Foundation. After the new year began in 2016, I received a call from one of the founding members asking if I would accept a nomination to the board. To this day, I’m still not sure how it came about, and I’ll have to admit I was a little apprehensive at first. This would be a new and unfamiliar endeavor for me, but one I felt I couldn’t possibly turn down. So I agreed and was elected on January 23, 2016. I’ve since come to the realization that it was one of the best days of my life!
I think back to the first time I saw Linden–she was looking a little breathless and “undressed”. She already had several really nice pieces of jewelry, but there were some that were pretty tarnished and needed a good cleaning and freshening up. The eye-catcher, of course, was that beautiful crown (the courthouse) that was already in place and sitting at the center of everything.
Her emotions, I believe, have always been there within her townspeople. The Foundation board members have been working diligently to get the ball rolling. With everyone’s help, I’m betting we can get her ready for more visitors so that she can flourish once again. It’s already begun with the beautiful new “accents” that have recently been added.
I’ve been back many times since my first visit; Linden has become my home away from home. I’ll keep returning to visit my ”family”, and I plan to stay with the Foundation to participate in the preservation activities for as long as I’m able and they’ll have me. This is the best way I know to pay homage to those who were there before me and to the person who has touched my life with his music and in so many other ways.
There is still much more work to be done–dusting and polishing and restoring of the good parts, then a little CPR, some dressing up, and finally adding some jewels here and there so that she looks her best–the top of the line of Small Town America. In the end, she’ll be a beautiful lady fit for a King.