Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Trestle

I grew up (if that is ever something that can be considered past tense) at the trestle. Or maybe at the Trestle. I wasn’t even one-hundred percent sure what one was until I wikipedia’ed it a moment ago. I won’t save you the time – look it up yourself if you don’t know. Funny how we name things after their lack, though. There was long since no trestle there. Just a deep creek bed, steep dirt hills, perhaps a wooden post or three, and the ever-exciting chance of finding a railroad spike. Or a horseshoe, but those really had little to do with the trestle.

Washington, so I had been told and have never felt inclined to think otherwise, was once a hub of sorts for the railway industry – which makes sense since the only industrial area of town makes train wheels or something (it’s a bit of a mystery and quite possible that they kill people, especially children, who investigate further – I know because I think they chased Tony and me off their lot once). And by hub I mean trains probably stopped there at one point and by industry I mean corn and pumpkins. And train wheels of course.

The Trestle (I think I like it this way better) was our playground, our fortress, our half-pipe and bike stunt-ground. And I am fairly certain that the other side – which was incredibly steep, had a path which ran all the way to Canada. I have no sense of direction and I was too young and/ or small to scale its eastern (western, northern, southern?) bank, but I have it on good authority that it was clear sailing forever on that other side. I seem to recall Aaron going up there and trying out some skateboarding maneuvers ramping back down, which is in itself a feat as the Trestle walls weren’t exactly smooth.

I can’t remember Alex ever coming along. But we lived on Church Street then, in the house where we never stopped finding bb’s from the previous tenants’ kids who shot the hell out of the ceiling in the bedroom. If it was on Church Street Alex would have been too young to go to the Trestle. I was too young to go to the Trestle, but got to tag along anyway. I don’t know why, can’t have been more than 5 years old, but being the fifth son Mom got a little more relaxed on worrying about us. We’d often come home a bit bloody, small pieces of gravel buckshot-embedded in our skin from whichever recent (awesome) wipeout. She would pretty much just toss us a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and tell us to clean ourselves up. It’s not that she didn’t care – she did – but that she had just grown accustomed to our little ‘mishaps’ and knew that they usually weren’t very serious.

I never biked the Trestle – though I eventually did have a Ross Snapper that was pretty sweet – birthday present from my brothers I think. That bike had one hell of a heavy frame – now bikes are all titanium-alloys or airplane aluminum or adamantium or something – I think the Snapper was cast iron. But I was much too young to try the ‘half pipe’ of dirt and rock and the occasional railroad spike. Not Aaron though – nor Abram too. What made things the best though, was during these few years there was a horrible drought – it’s when I first learned what a drought was – so the creek bed was always dried up. Some days we would explore the length of the creek instead of just going up and down the sides of the Trestle. We could follow that thing all the way to the Buntings in one direction or to Paradise (the creek swimming hole with a rope swing most accessible through the cemetery) in the other.

The best part of it was, though, that my brothers never made me feel like I was just tagging along – when I know now that I had to have been. I want to go back sometime, but I don’t know if I should. The walls probably aren’t nearly so steep anymore, the railroad spikes have probably all been found. There might be some horseshoes still but those really have nothing to do with the Trestle. I could go back, but the Trestle wouldn’t be there. Of course, it was never really there to begin with, at least, not in anyone living’s memory. But we could sit at the bottom and imagine the trains going by – straight over and across the steep cliffs – along a path that probably went all the way to Canada.
Or maybe Bloomington.

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