Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sometimes newer isn't better

The planks groaned. A sound very familiar to the people on Neff Road. The old bridge matched another that spanned across  the water of Painter Creek on Byreley Road. The little creek meandered across farms seeking refuge in a larger body of water, always going under one side of the bridge only to come out the other side.

Our little creek ran into the Stillwater River which ran into the Great Miami River watershed. Of course, to those of us who lived around the sweet, little creek, we loved it for the tadpoles, frogs, turtles and crawdads. Ground hogs, raccoon, an occasional dog and other critters enjoyed the clear water of the creek. But none of this has anything to do with the reason for this writing. I'm writing about our bridge.

The bridge was probably erected some time between the late 1870's to 1930's. I had trouble finding much information on this dear bridge. Evidently, it didn't mean as much to historians as it did to those who lived in the neighborhood. From research I find that the bridge was a truss bridge. A truss bridge has metal rails that form triangular units. They are considered one of the oldest types of  modern bridges. Ohio has the largest number of truss bridges in the United States. With this in mind, I'm not sure why the two in our neighborhood were revamped sometime in the 1960's or 70's. Seems to me that the bridges were just perfect the way they were built. I think it had something to do with cars passing and wide loads. Although seems to me that people were much friendlier when they had to stop for a tractor crossing the bridge. A neighbor might even stop and say "hello" to the neighbor waiting. It could save a neighbor a trip back the lane.

I looked up the last inspection in 2010 of the bridge on Neff Road. The average daily traffic is 200 vehicles. Now I lived there for nineteen years, visiting all the years after, and can tell you that in no way has there ever been 200 cars, tractors, buggies, bicycles, dogs, pedestrians, trucks and/or motor cycles on that road on any one day. The bridge is in very good condition and has an operating rating of 40.6 tons. Evidently it will hold all the 200 vehicles that pass over it each day.

I loved that old creaking bridge. It signaled the comings and goings on our road. It gave kids a great place to toss rocks into the creek below. For the Loxley girls, it was a place we stood and with deep affection, looked upon our home.

Sometimes newer isn't better.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Flouroscope

"Was it in Bradford?" I asked my sister who was at my mercy in her hospital bed."I'm sure it was in Bradford," I answered myself.

She laid there concentrating. "I think you're right. It could be Greenville, but I think it was in Bradford."

Now this has nothing to do with what I'm writing about except that this is the way some of my topics surface. A bit of bouncing back and forth rememberings of an older sister and one who came a long seven years later. We were talking about the 1950's and shoes. I was just a little kid, so she should be more the authority; however, I really don't think she was paying much attention to me or shoes back then.

I remembered walking into a shoe store that had a big display on an oval rounder holding two rows of  kids shoes. Mostly Buster Brown....and his faithful dog Tige. Off to the back stood the topic of discussion. We could both describe it but had no idea what it was called.

"Remember that thing you put your feet into?" I inquired.

"Oh, yeah. Later they found out it was dangerous. Something to do with the x-rays. You could see through the shoe and your foot."

A tall box where you put your feet in new shoes in the bottom and looked through a golden scope into your shoes...and feet. I looked it up when I came home. A flouroscope. Seems it should have been called an invisibleshoeoscope or a seeyourtoebonesoscope. Regardless of what scope we were looking through, we were also allowing radiation to play havoc with our feet while sometimes these silly scopes leaked radiation. No wonder I have bunyons. I blame it on the shouldaknownbetteroscopes.

It was the last time I had my feet x-rayed, And, probably the only time shoes were x-rayed as well. I came home with a new pair of shoes. I believe the box said: “That’s my dog, Tige. He lives in a shoe. I’m Buster Brown. Look for me in there too.”

Wonder if it was Bradford or Greenville? Hm. Maybe it was Arcanum.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Just a reminder

The big calendar hung on the wall. It was from the grain elevator on Red River/West Grove Road. Dad had a doctor appointment. Mom was going to something at the Extension Service. One could always check out the phases of the moon. The other source of information was the Farmer's Almanac. With these two items, we could know the day, the appointments on any specific day, the past, the present and the predicted future weather. The cart beneath the TV in the kitchen also held other resources: the current phone book, last year's phone book, Guidepost, Farm Journal and various other media that arrived in the mail. We were never short on resources.

Religious information was also handy in case we had immediate need of inspiration. The Gospel Messengers from the last three years were deposited in various places around the house. Mom's worn out Bible was in the bathroom (good place to focus on the Good Book). The hymnal sat on the piano and a few church programs were always lying around. Our souls were covered no matter what room we were in at any given time.

I remember when as newlyweds we moved into the Lawrence place. Orville had never thrown away anything. Every magazine and newspaper they had received was stacked in the barn and loft. We didn't live there long enough to discover all of the handy information that surrounded us.  It seems the mice had a run at it before we did. Or it could be that we moved to Wisconsin in less than a year from moving into our sweet farm house. A source of history missed.

I don't need a calendar, almanac, dictionary or books. I can get all of it on the internet. I can actually get all of it on my phone. I like the efficiency of the computer. I like that I can sit at an appointment and check out all of the above while I wait. I can even entertain myself with a game or take pictures of other people staring at their phones. It seems that friendly dialogue is replaced by texting. Now a farmer can go online and find out what the weather will be for the next week. All the most recent farming news is easily attained with a few words Googled. I can find the history of farming in Darke County Ohio and read my Daily Advocate. I guess this might be considered progress. Hm. I prefer paper and conversation.

I wonder what Mom and Dad would think of all this. Dad would probably shake his head sure that this too would all pass. Mom would probably surprise me and want to learn all about it. I'm waiting for the day when we can read minds. I hope someone wants to play mental Scrabble.

Oh, just got a reminder on my phone.....my column is due.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Fairly Exciting

Excitement that would make a dog's tail wag. The kind of excitement that causes children to be hyper, er, more hyper.  People packing bags and RV's ready for that annual trip to Greenville. What causes such excitement and anticipation? Easy. The Great Darke County Fair.

Although I haven't been back for the fair in at almost thirty years, I still have that yearly anticipation. And why not? I walked that fair from the time I was a little girl holding my parents' hands to the time when I was a mother with teenage children visiting the farm for the month of August. I held quite a few hands at the fairgrounds. Some of them were pretty special. I visited the fair as a child full of awe and wonder. As a teenager full of love and romance. Finally as an adult looking for familiar faces.

We didn't raise animals to show at the fair. But the animal barns were always a first stop. We visited the Elikers and their horses. Then we trotted off to the cow barns and then the pigs. Dad always looked over the sheep probably comparing them to his own. Bunnies, chickens, goats, we loved them all. We were farmers, and this was our fair. It seems that no matter the age I happened to be, I always visited the barns where homemaker's showed the work of their hands. I looked for names I recognized. Those of our neighbors and friends. I wandered through the 4-H barn looking at the amazing things made by my friends and later by their children. I wandered to the Art Barn looking for a painting by my cousin Alma Lea. This was the fair belonging to all who lived in Darke County.

For a girl who has always had a good case of motion sickness, the midway rides were more a threat than a thrill. The ponies were about the right speed for me. Those horses that went around and around and up and down on the merry-go-round were a double threat. I was meant to be a bystander. When I was little, I remember visiting the arcade. I put a coin into a machine and a post card featuring a star came out. Lone Ranger, Danny Kaye, Bogart, Gene Autry, David Niven, June Allison, Ginger Rogers. So many stars....so few coins. I always hoped to get Roy Rogers or Dale Evans. Better yet, one of both Roy and Dale. Today those cards fetch anywhere from $3-10, depending on just how long ago that card popped out of that little machine. Every year kids came home with a trove of treasures: a Cupie doll on a stick (ouch), a brightly colored cane, a rosette fan that when unfolded presented a rainbow of colors, a whip which could serve no other purpose than to inflict pain on a younger sibling, a sparkly topped baton of red, white and blue. So many things to attract a small child. An occasional fair toy was indeed a treat. We were farmers. There wasn't always money to spend on rides and trinkets.

I wish class reunions would happen during Fair Week rather than in the spring. We could all gather in a place that drew us as children. Our vacation time could be spent visiting our roots and this once a year place of memory. I won't make it to the fair this year, but I will dream of cotton candy and candy apples. I will remember the faces of those I passed on the midway and those who were a part of those days long ago.

I miss you, Darke County Fair. Maybe next year.