It was the silty stuff and I can still feel it on my bare feet. In the summer it was very warm, but the sidewalk was hot, so the sandy dirt was much preferred. I should explain that the sidewalk of which I speak was a block away over beside the highway. It was a 2 block long sidewalk that ran from the Fein house, along an empty field and then the block in front of Mr. Kings house, a rental house and then in front of the house where some crazy lady lived that we never saw and she may or may not have actually lived there. The side walk on that block was pretty cracked and had chunks missing. So if we were lucky enough to snag a pair of skates we could only skate on the first block.
Three things come to my mind from the above paragraph. First, Mr. King (and that may or may not be his actual name, but it works for me this morning.) is the one who slept face down in his garden one day all day long until a black hearse took him away. Second is the matter of snagging skates. My friend Barbara had skates and sometimes she would let me borrow a pair to skate home from her house which was in town and where I visited sometimes. There was always the stipulation that I not skate in the dirt and I not lose the "key".
For those of you who do not know about old time skates, I will update you. They were made of 2 steel platforms with two steel wheels in front and two wheels in back. The body was held together with a nut which required a "key" to tighten and loosen. Loosen the nut and slide the platforms either apart to make them bigger or together to make them smaller. The front had clamps which were loosened and then adjusted for the tight fit needed to hold the front of the skate on your shoe. The back had a strap for you ankle. If everything was not tightly fitted your skate could come off and down you went with your tender flesh skidding along the rough side walk. Ah, but when everything was perfect the feel of the wind on your face and arms as you sped along at 3 MPH was worth all the risks! The best way to stop was to steer off into the dirt and that worked every time.
click here to see a pair
The last thing that comes to my mind from that paragraph is that the corner of the sidewalk that was by the Fein house had several steps that brought you up from the highway to the sidewalk. It was on those steps that my brother brought the news to me that Hank Williams had died in the back seat of his limousine on his way to do a show in Nashville. He was so young and we could not believe it. People did not die for no reason, but there it was. How very sad we were that day. WSM had announced it. WSM was the Grand Old Opry station. I wonder if it still is? I may turn the radio on some Saturday night and see. That is if I can find the radio and if I know which button it is.
But what I really started out to tell you this morning, is how clearly I can feel the sandy dirt on my feet from all those years ago. I used to like to wiggle my toes into a pile of it where it had blown up along side the road. It felt silky and warm and made me happy. But when it would rain and there would be puddles, that was fun too. If the puddles stayed several days there would be little things in the water that looked like tiny dots with a tail. I soon learned that those were pollywogs, which would turn into toads or frogs in just a couple days if the mud puddle did not try up and we did not step on them. They were pretty damn fast, so stepping on them was really not an option.
Ah, but the best part was when the puddle dried up if we did not disturb it, there would be a whole new thrill. If left alone the sun would dry the mud and the top layer would curl up. When that happened I could step barefooted on the dry mud and feel it crackle under my feet. That was a whole new feeling and if Jake got to the puddle first he did it and that used to piss me off so bad! Sometimes he would save it for me and that made my whole childhood worth while. I do not know the last time I actually stepped on dry mud.
Funny the things we think about in the middle of the night when the world is asleep and we are all alone. Guess that is why God gave us a memory. It keeps me grounded.