Saturday, August 17, 2013

Side trip down memory lane.

For most of my young life, this tunnel was the only passage from Sloss Road to Dora, and Birmingham. Mr. Higginbottom lived in the first house on this end of the tunnel, and when I think back, it's a wonder he didn't go postal.
The acoustics in the tunnel acted like a megaphone. When cars with busted mufflers drove through, it was louder than a Phantom Jet at takeoff.
I know this for a fact, because I went to see him one sunny autumn afternoon.
He rewound the copper in old generators, bringing obsolete parts back to life.
When the generator on my 1946 Plymouth died, buying a new one wasn't an option.
I started parking the old car on hills and other places where I could roll it off, pop the clutch, and crank the beast.
Once when I did that, it didn't crank, and none of my buddies were around to help me push it off, so I decided to get it fixed.
I got up early on Saturday, pulled the tools from the trunk and loosened the two bolts holding the oily generator on.
I borrowed my mom's Buick and headed down to Mr. Higginbottom's house. As we stood in his shop talking, one of my friends came through the tunnel in a souped up Ford. He punched in the clutch and revved the motor. The sound echoed out of the tunnel and off the hills and hollows around the old town. Before he exited, he blew his horn.
It was a ritual repeated ALL DAY AND ALL NIGHT LONG, according to Mr. Higginbottom. Apparently he'd learned to tune it out, much like one tunes out a grandfather clock that chimes on the hour.
Now as I think back, I can honestly say that I have never driven through that tunnel without blowing my horn.
The state built a bypass back in the late 1960s, and all the businesses in the old part of town, moved to the new highway.
These days about the only people who drive through the tunnel are people taking a side trip down memory lane.


  1. Irresistible...tunnels and blowing car horns. They just go together, somehow. I am guilty of it, myself. Love it!

  2. It is really interesting how people can block out noise... I had a friend who lived near the train tracks and she never heard it, I lived very close to the fire station and eventually I never hear it either... We seem to adapt :)

  3. I enjoy your stories so much!

  4. One of my favorite hikes is a "memory lane" hike..thanks for taking us along on yours! I can attest to tuning out noise. I lived in the flight pattern of O'hare airport growing up and Jack and I had an apartment even closer to the just got used to turning the volume on t.v. up and down when a plane flew over. No wonder I was thinner back then! (no remotes!)


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