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|Football, Autumm Leaves and Cinders (standard:humor, 1013 words)|
|Author: Dennis Knight||Added: Sep 16 2000||Views/Reads: 2373/918||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|Memories of Laramie, Wyoming, about 1953, when I was ten years old. Evokes many sights, sounds, smells and nostalgia of an afternoon in a college town. Do you like sloppy joes?|
Football, Autumn Leaves and Cinders Memories of Laramie, 1953 In writing of growing up in Laramie, I think of autumn, and an incredible mix of aromas and other sensations flood my memory and bring me back to a time that will never be again, and perhaps shouldn't, and should perhaps never be missed, but will be. Walk home with me today. It's a Saturday in early October, 1953. We're ten years old, you and I, and we've spent the morning at the big red library at 4th and Grand. It's an old building, and a kingdom of magic lurks in its dusty stacks, amidst an aroma of steam pipes, leather bindings and mildew. I met Robin Hood there, and I'm satisfied to this day that Sherwood Forest smells like the Carnegie Public Library. Feel the wind, not quite cold but requiring a light jacket, swirling through the business district. Downtown bustled this morning with a thousand shoppers, but it's deserted now on a Saturday afternoon. There’s a football game today at the university, and the stores, all of them, closed at noon. You can hear the sounds of the big game all over town: a cannon booms, the marching band plays “Cowboy Joe”, and a crowd larger than the whole population of Laramie roars so loud you can hear it even over the Union Pacific locomotives chugging a few blocks away. Crossing the street West from the library, we walk first past our church, St. Lawrence O'Toole's, and our conversation lapses as we nod our heads briefly to acknowledge God’s presence, like Monsignor taught us. But, I wonder, why do we always quicken our pace when we walk by? We amble down Grand to Second, then South to Gamble's store, where we admire the bicycles in the window. Schwinn "Roadmasters" they are, and they're all built like Buicks--a modern fifties version of streamlining, with a tank in the cross bars, a horn button on the tank, fat tires, bullet shaped headlights, coaster brakes, and chain guards. They're beauties of many colors, some boys’, some girls', but they have one thing in common–they're all 1-speed bikes. We're getting close to the tracks, now, as we turn West again on Garfield towards the foot bridge. The sound of the trains is getting to be so loud, you nearly have to plug your ears. Man! Can you smell the soot? There must be something about the altitude around here that makes a train put out black smoke. Does the reduced oxygen mess up the combustion? (Heavy science for ten-year-olds, but we've just left the library, and our brains are still working pretty good.) Soot smells, and it sticks. All of downtown has it, but the closer you get to the tracks, the dirtier the architecture. The "Treagle Train" is in town for the game today. That's a train that's sponsored by the Cheyenne Tribune and Eagle newspapers (get it? "Treagle"?). All the politicians and the other codgers over in the state capital ride it, and by the time the train gets to Laramie, they're fall-down drunk. It would be fun to hang around this afternoon and watch them get poured back onto the cars, but we gotta get on home. The foot bridge is of steel girder construction with a concrete deck rising about thirty feet above the tracks, on somewhat spindly legs spaced way too far apart, and it can really get to shaking with all the activity down below. Did you notice how the grownups only walk in the middle of the bridge? They don't like to get too close to the edge, I guess. Weird. From the top at the East end of the bridge we can see miles down the main line to the North where a single bright head lamp looms larger than the engine it leads, putting the dot on the exclamation point formed by black smoke rising from her fire box. I feel the pin-prick pain of a cinder in my eye from one of the big locomotives idling down below us, spewing dirty, oily smoke that could choke a steel worker. You can't cry a cinder out with your tears; it has to be carefully and gently removed by your mom or maybe your sister if she's in a good mood. Don't ever, ever let your brother do it! Click here to read the rest of this story (29 more lines)
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