Monday, September 07, 2015

Long-forgotten memory

I’ve been in a rut lately. When this happens, my column ideas get stale and I find myself taking pictures of the same subjects over and over. The solution this time was to visit somewhere I’d never been, but when I found the new place, I uncovered a long-forgotten memory.

The place I chose was a rustic park I pass each time I go into Birmingham. I would see the entrance gates and think to myself, “I need to go in there sometimes when I’m not in a hurry.”

This past week, I had an unhurried day, so I drove into the park gate at Five-Mile Creek, which is owned by the City of Graysville. About a quarter-mile from the gate, the road ended at an old concrete bridge crossing the creek.

Rocks as big as a Volkswagen Bug blocked the bridge so that vehicles could not drive over it. Of course the rocks make a perfect canvas for graffiti. The class of 2015 was well represented. The names were proudly scrawled for eternity…or as long as acrylic-based paint lasts.

The city used an old roadbed from the original highway 78 that closed in the 1950s when the new highway opened. The park was designed for fishing and for launching canoes.

It was peaceful there aside from the drone of traffic off in the distance. Walking onto the bridge, I stopped midway and leaned over the concrete rail to look at the water 30 feet below. Kudzu grew to the water’s edge in places. The vines had plum-colored blooms that smelled like grape Kool-Aid.

Leaning over the edge, I could see minnows and small-mouth bass playing in the shallow water under the shade of the bridge.

After a while, I headed back toward my truck and when I saw the incline of the old highway, I experienced déjà vu. Then slowly realized that it wasn’t déjà vu. I had been on this bridge when I was a small child.

My family headed into the city late one afternoon and I was riding in the back seat of our old ‘47 Chevy. The two-lane road was wet from a light rain.

We were the first car behind a caravan of tractor-trailer trucks that inched up the steep grade as slow as snails. Dad inched toward the centerline to get a look to see how far it was before we could get around the trucks. An oncoming car whooshed by inches from his side window, so he fell back in line.

I got on my knees and turned to look out the back glass. Behind us was a line of traffic as far as I could see.

I imagined there were drivers inventing creative new combinations of curse words, but no one tried passing the line of trucks on that hill and if there were blaring horns, I didn’t hear them.

Memories are sometimes buried beneath years of facts, figures and mountains of useless information. But they are like motion sensor lights that turn on when you walk nearby. Mental treasures triggered not by motion but by sights, tastes, smells or sounds. I love it when one of these jewels light up my mind.


  1. I am glad you stopped by Five Mile Creek. I do like it when the state, city or county decides to use an old bridge or road. But I liked the story best of all. Oh yes when there were only two lane roads, the slow trucks on hills did generate some 'words' I am sure.
    Good entry, I could see the '47 Chevy. In my mid it was green . LOL

  2. Beautifully penned....

  3. Memories come on waves and out of the blue... this was an intersting on Rick... nice that you went down that way again ;-)

  4. I so enjoyed the reawakening of your memory. It is good to take a look at new things now and then. In your case it turned out to be an old new thing.

  5. Kudzu is probably a weed, however it has a lovely flower.

    Ms Soup

  6. Memory is an unbelievable gift. It amazes me how it can work in that jellied brain of ours through the senses. It's such a treasure to have all this given to us yet we seldom realize the greatness of it all.

    I love it when something like that jog one of my childhood memories. Very interesting.

    Have a great day.

  7. Motion sensor lights .... what a great way in which to describe that 'jog'! (Goosebumps!)

  8. I don't know what Kudzu is but your writing inspires me to find out! What a great glad you took the less traveled road and I love the black and white pic too. Sometimes we need to shake up our days with a little adventure and trip to the to find out it was really a "known"! Have a good day Rick!

  9. I just love the way you write.:) It really brings a smile to my face. It is interesting what triggers our memories. I am fascinated by how the brain works. I am watching a show on, TVO(Canadian PBS style channel) about the brain-very interesting

  10. You wrote this beautifully.

  11. Anonymous5:40 PM

    Thanks for the coffee & the trip to the park!!

  12. Hello, Good Buddy.
    Hope you are doing well, I must tell you that this last year I also had a memory of a time with my mother and I was no more than years old it was weird how it hit me. Blessing to you and your lovely wife.
    I always enjoy your post, you encourage me to continue to blog...

  13. Yes I am with Birgit I get lost in your words and can just picture the scene which is one of the reasons I like to come here for a visit

  14. As long as you can come up with the inspiration to write a post, I'll follow. You write beautifully.


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