In Memory of Rufus, Big Yellow Dog

How do you mourn the loss of your childhood stomping grounds? On Christmas weekend we turned on to the familiar road that leads to my inlaws’ home. Instead of continuing straight, though, the hubby asked if I would indulge him. I knew before he even turned the steering wheel that he wanted to drive the road that meanders along the perimeter of the old Springfield Country Club golf course. Several of the homes that border the course are for sale. I can’t imagine they are too happy with their once beautifully manicured view, which is now overgrown and littered with magnificent trees that have been cut down to make way for a new housing community.

My husband spent many nights walking the golf course with his big yellow dog Rufus lumbering along as his faithful companion. Although his parents were never members of the country club, the experiences he had there helped shape him. He worked as a lifeguard at the club pool and he ran the concession stand, grilling burgers and selling freezer pops to the kids who spent their humid Tennessee summer days swimming at the pool. He and his buddies would hunt for golf balls in the early mornings, but their efforts were always thwarted by the El Camino driving golf pro. They’d set up a stand later and resell the balls to the golfers, along with cold lemonade. He cut his teeth as a bartender at the club, and when he moved to Florida in 1993 his going away party was held there. But the golf course isn’t the only area that’s been taken over by developers. The woods near the course that he once explored and pitched a tent in are gone and in their place are new homes, a hospital, and a bank. Just across the highway is a Super Wal-Mart.

Luckily he took Caitlin for a walk on the course last year before the bulldozers broke ground. He told her about how Daddy the little boy walked the course with his big yellow dog and their many adventures. I’m just glad that Rufus the dog passed away years before his golf course and trees were gone.

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