Monday, July 19, 2010

No more Dragons

My dad, mom, older brother and I made up my childhood home at 25 Vine Street. We moved there even before my mind could remember, which I believe was around 1954. This was before color T.V., air conditioners, rotary phones, and imagine this, even before computers, cell phones, i-pods, and blogs! Wow! How in the world did we survive growing up with such deprivation.

You could get to 25 Vine Street from Main Street in two ways. One was to take a right onto East Broadway, and the other was to take a right onto Washington Street. Either way, you would have to cross the railroad tracks before you would come to Vine Street. Just before you would reach the tracks on Broadway you would have to pass the Winchester Stock Yards. For me, this was an amazing place, full of cows, pigs, sheep, bulls, and horses. For most every one else, it was a place of smells that you would try to avoid at all cost!

Now if you came from town using Washington Street, you passed over the tracks using the viaduct. This was another architectural wonder that arched over two sets of tracks. It was constructed using some form of cement that contained tiny pebbles, compacted so tightly that you had to work very hard to get any pebble loose. At the top of the arch, the road narrowed to exactly two car widths, making it appear very, very narrow. The side walk only passed on the left side coming from Main to Vine Street. A concrete barrier blocked you from falling into the gully below. The arch was always a fun place to stand when a train passed underneath. I only remember watching diesel engines pass with their three circular exhausts fuming, leaving the air wavy and hot. They made a solid, continuous, almost humming sound. Not like the black dragons, those steam engines who's chug, chug, chug seemed to move everything around them. The smells changed from that of burning coal, to that of burning diesel, although what followed the diesel engines remained the same, miles and miles of coal cars. Watching these diesels pass, I often felt a little sad. Where did all the dragons go?

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