Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 16,351: Bridges

I took this photo about a week ago from a bridge that was used by cars and trains decades before its pedestrian-only repurposing. Formerly known as the L&N, this was the primary thoroughfare by which my family and I traveled across the Ohio River between Ohio and Kentucky in the late 60s and early 70s. (Cue something Fifth Dimension.)

These were the days when kids clamored freely about the backseat of expansive vehicles devoid of restraints beyond useless lapbelts. Woe to the one who plopped their bare legs upon buckles hot as branding irons from the summer sun. Not that there was any relief from the vinyl seats, mind you, so we often sat upon bath towels that slipped around with every stop sign and red light. We traveled with windows wide open, rolled down with two-handed effort on plastic handles with a tendency to pop off.

If the seats themselves didn't burn my two siblings and me, then flying ashes and butts from our cigarette smoking parents did. We were completely at the mercy of the wind direction and their poor aim. The best odds for safety (and I use that term loosely) were had by the kid who called dibs on the floor behind the front seat. Even sleeping on the rear window shelf afforded some protection (again, loosely). I am certain that there were at least three guardian angels per child back then ... and they worked really, really hard.

The L&N has been rechristened as the Purple People Bridge. We can only walk across the river here instead of drive. There are benches and beverages en route. Quaint, maybe, but in my opinion a rather humiliating retirement for bridge so rich in history. From it I can see that the newest building downtown is "becraned" to receive her crown and surpasses the old Carew Tower as the tallest in town. Like the beloved Carew, I am getting older too. The rules and landscape I have known since my birth keep changing. Time will tell which of them are really for the better.

Summers may be much safer now, but there is so much I sorely miss.


amelia said...

you did such a fabulous job of detailing the way we grew up riding in cars- my parents even cut the seat belts out- LOL- somehow we survived it- you have me all nostalgic now- this was a fabulous post, I really enjoyed reading it!

Jennifer/The Word Cellar said...

nice writing, julie!