Sunday, July 10, 2011

"Going Home"

         Having looked forward to spending Independence Day in my home town of Richfield Utah for several months, when last Monday Morning arrived, my eyes popped open well before the alarm set for 4:30 am sounded.  My last Fourth of July in the Richfield City Park, some thirty years earlier,  had  been spent with my buddies marveling at how cute the girls were and how huge post graduate life had suddenly become.  Things were as good as we could imagine them being as we lay in the deep grass watching the clouds drift by overhead.  John stopped by to report that he had seen Camille Mower, a sight that had made an obvious impression on him, as well as to give us the low down on who we could expect to see at the city pool later on in the day.  A truck load of local girls wanting to know what we had planned followed soon after John had left, and we assured them we had nothing definite in mind, but would be attending the dance later in the evening.
     The truth was, however, that we did have a plan, but it didn't involve girls, but rather a slalom  ski, a lifted pickup with a roll bar, and speeds from thirty to forty miles per hour along the winding dirt canal road west of town  "There would be plenty of time for girls later," we joked, and off we went.
I can't help as I roll back the memories, ...revisiting one particular classic that has stayed with me until today.
    How things had changed from my early years at the Milford park, where homemade root beer flowed for a nickle a cup, and orange Sloppy Joe sauce lined the lips of every kid in town.  Year after year I found a reason for not participating in the foot races, afraid of suffering the humiliation my other class mates annually subjected themselves to at the hands of Tom Bradshaw.  He was short, but quick, and had proven unbeatable for at least four years when I walked with killer determination flowing through my veins on my way to the starting line the summer before fourth grade.  I was tall, with long speedy legs and had convinced myself after a number of subtle speed checks on the school play yard, that all things being even, I could beat him, and so I prepared for battle.  Shedding my shoes and socks to make me even faster, I took my place on the line and waited for the starters gun to sound.
     "On your mark, ...get set," the man barked loudly.  My heart was well out of my chest and all the way up in my cottoned mouth, pounding with such a fury I thought I might pass out just waiting.
     The gun exploded and every muscle in my tense body sprang forward as if to cover the hundred feet or so in a single bound.  "Surely I would once and for all show Tom who was the fastest kid in our grade," I told myself, but suddenly the damp morning grass beneath my toes gave way, leaving my driving legs with nothing but air to push against.  Horror slammed me in the face even before the grass carpet did as on the far side I caught sight of Tom, fully upright and lunging ahead of the rest of the field. 
     I secretly carried that defeat more heavily than any other for the longest time, as the following summer our family moved to another town, removing any chance for a rematch from the realm of possibility.
     I've experienced Fourth of July's in three states and a dozen cities or towns, and although they all have their particular flare, none quite have the feel of Richfield's celebration for me.  When I was fourteen, I caught a ten lb rainbow trout in the youth fish grab.  We then floated the canal and spent the rest of the afternoon swinging on the third west cemetery swing.  At Fifteen I was arrested for the first and only time of my life and taken to jail for tossing a lit firecracker into some lady's huge teased mass of red hair.  Robert Oldroyd handed the lit cracker to me at the last second leaving me no choice but to flip it quickly away, and when pointed out to the authorities, he promptly named me as his accomplice.  I'm still a little sore about it Bitt if you happen to be reading this.  Not really,  ...since nobody was hurt and the Sheriff Huntsman didn't give us a record, it's still one of my favorite memories.  Paiute Reservoir and Yuba Lake became the after park recreational sites the next two years, when adult driving chaperons became no longer necessary and young pretty girls seemed to be blossoming more plentifully than the flowers.
     Monday, ...all these years later, when I walked from the car through the thousands of people lining main street on my way to the park, all came rushing back.  Suddenly I was in an old familiar place, where smiles and friendly hello's seemed to be in endless supply.  I had worried about whether or not I would be remembered and received, but my worries were unnecessary as my day became filled with nostalgic re awakenings and emotionally charged reunions.  What a wonderful day, complete with a back yard picnic at Darwin and Renae Jackson's and capped off with three incredible hours at Christensen's signing books and visiting with old and new friends there. Thank you Christensen's, Rick and Karen, and my dear family of Jacksons.
     Now, all this being said, I'm confident that towns all across this great nation hold similar emotions for you, whoever you may be, and where ever you're upbringing, and I wish you well.  Dorothy had it right when she said, "There's no place like home," and if you have feelings anywhere close to mine about your own wonder place and time, I hope you're visit back will bring you the joy and satisfaction mine did. 
     Here's remembering the men and women upon whose backs the hope of our lives was built, ...may we always remember, and earn our right to it by the things we leave behind.

No comments:

Post a Comment