The doors have closed on a 46-year era in my life. I’ve walked through my high school and college home for the last time; the keys have been turned in, and a four and a half decade in my life has closed.

The address, 606 N. Jefferson St., is no longer a part of my life.

I will never forget the summer of 1963. In many ways, it was one of those special summers that come along only a few times in a life time, kind of like the movie, “The Summer of ‘42,” although with a totally different theme.

In July of that summer, my dad had taken a three-week vacation from Smith Brothers Furniture so that, as a family, we could enjoy a western trip. We traveled the old Route 66 through Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and into California.

Pictures came to life with such scenes as the Grand Canyon, the Arizona desert, Disneyland, Yosemite Park, the Redwood Trees, Bryce Canyon, and many other great sites that warranted hundreds of photos by my dad’s Argus C-3 camera.

That in itself, was the experience of a lifetime for a young midwestern boy who had been planted firmly in rural Indiana. But the summer had only begun.

In August, we moved from my first childhood home of 15 years in Ceylon into Berne; the move meant changing high schools, and a “change of occupation” from mowing lawns to working in a grocery store, where I drew my first paycheck.

Early memories include Bible classes from my dad’s Sunday School class, overnight stays of friends from school, and the opportunity to be part of a neighborhood for the first time.

In the evenings, our driveway would fill with Hoosier basketball enthusiasts for driveway basketball, often coupled with sandwiches and cookies served by my mother to a group of boys too caught up in competition to stop for a meal around the table.

Up until that time, we had lived with my grandmother, but the new residence included a special room for grandma during the winter, although she still lived in her home during the summer.

The scene quickly moved from high school to college, and to the inclusion of a new “visitor”, my wife-to-be, Joyce, who quickly became a part of the green house at the corner of Jefferson and Compromise Streets. As years passed, the old home became Grandma and Grandpa Langham’s house.

Due to the circumstances of being a pastor, living in parsonages, our “606 home,” (as we affectionately called it) became “home base.” Regardless of where we lived, it was the one place that was home to our entire family.

After my dad passed in that home on Dec. 28, 1990, the house, which was starting to age with the years, became the final home refuge for my mother and our visits there. When she went to the nursing home, it sheltered many of our family belongings, memorabilia, and heritage memories.

The passing of my mother seemed to drain life from the house, as deterioration beyond affordable repair set in. With torn hearts, the decision was made to sort through the belongings and turn the home over to a different era.

The past few months has been a time of discoveries, rekindling of memories, and very tough decisions concerning what goes and what stays.

Now, the decisions have all been made, a final walk through has been taken, and the transition to a new era without “606” in our family has been made.

My parents are gone; life goes on, and the words of my father ring true as the door shuts behind me: “the home is not the house, but the spirit of the family that lives there.”

The house is gone, but the home is alive and well, and that’s what counts in the end.

And now that era is gone; we have moved back to Indiana and life goes on, several houses in a lifetime, but one home, a family.