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It#039;s great to be back home again

I used to be a tiny blond-headed mop of a boy riding a bike through the streets of Greenville and I remember three years spent playing Peewee football beneath the lights of Tiger Stadium. I was shallow of frame but strong in heart.

I saw Wink Fussell, my Peewee coach, the other day. He agreed.

"The pads weighed more than you," he chuckled. "But you'd get in there with them."

Thanks Wink.

"And hold on," he chuckled again.

Times have changed.

Greenville's grown, but it still has that small town feeling. That intimate feeling of familiarity.

In the first grade, my mother literally had to drag me kicking and screaming into Bobbie Carter's classroom. "He's okay when you leave," she told my mother. And I was.

I remember when a new fast food restaurant opening in Greenville was a big deal. I can remember when all we had was McDonald's and Hardees.

Ronald McDonald and a whole troop of characters would show up in Greenville and you'd thought it was Christmas all over again. I remember the first Happy Meals. I remember Chicken McNuggets and special sauce, lettuce, cheese when America's rapidly rising obesity rate wasn't a concern.

Across the way, Super Foods used to be Big Bear. I had a Big Bear yellow Frisbee once. Like most of my hair, I lost it.

Down from that was Elmore's Department Store. Once, Chewbacca walked through that store and scared me to death. Seeing the Star Wars character on the big screen at the drive-in was one thing. Seeing him up close and personal as part of a promotion for Kenner action figures was another.

Yes, Greenville did have a movie theatre once. And a drive-in. I'm sorry for you youngsters who never had a chance to experience a film at the Ritz. I saw "Pete's Dragon" and "The Scarecrow," an old Walt Disney picture about a priest who dressed up as a scarecrow and fought the British during the 1700s.

For weeks after I terrorized my sister on my bicycle, wearing a cape and floppy gardener's hat as my own version of the scarecrow.

That was when we lived in a little house where I used to feed weenies out my bedroom window to our big black dog in the backyard.

I remember when former Sheriff Joe Sanders was held hostage at the Butler County Courthouse and took a bullet. Later we found out the man that shot him lived two houses down from us. Greenville was all too familiar at that point.

Like many, I eventually left my home town. I joined the Navy, saw more of the world than I cared to see, returned, left again, went to college, and came home.

Like I said, times have changed, especially for me, but it's great to be back home again.

Kevin Pearcey is Group Managing Editor of Greenville Newspapers, LLC. He can be reached by phone at 334-383-9302, ext. 136 or by email at editor@greenville.advocate.com.