September 16, 2013

Childhood Monuments

Image courtesy of artur84/
FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Kids clustered as close to the digging equipment as the workers would allow. The red clay churned and our third base shifted in the ground. Exclamations of surprise echoed from the crowd of children as the huge white rock at the edge of our front yard succombed to progress. 

"Whoa!"

"Wow.  Look how big it is."

The new neighbors wanted natural gas, and the line where the pipes would be laid crossed third base, our white rock. When the neighborhood parents broke the news to us, every child protested.  Third base was a fixture.  First base was the bush at the corner of the house, second base the water meter cover.  The white rock, embedded in the earth for all time, stood solid as third base.

How many times had I stood on it, excitement in my veins? Home lay just ahead.  One more hit, and I would score.

Even when we weren't playing baseball, it gave us joy.  I loved to ride my bicycle over it, to feel that sharp jolt upward only a moment before gravity yanked me back to earth. It represented "safe" in a game of tag, or something to balance on when the days ran long and there was nothing to do.  The big white rock stood as a monument to our childhood.

Like a glacier, only the tip of the huge mass showed above ground, but the foundation hidden underground blew us away.  Many times larger than we ever imagined, the rock burst forth from the earth, uncovered by the evil gas company's equipment. Even in our sadness to see it go, not a single child on our street missed its demise. We raced home to brag to our parents about its greatness.

Then third base was gone.

No one thought to ask the work crew to save it, to set it aside for safe keeping.  I don't know where it went from there, but I still can see it in my mind: craggy and white, speckled with red dirt. Beautiful.

Last Saturday, I ran into a childhood friend. As we recalled the scrapes we got into, I asked, "Do you remember what was third base in our front yard?"

Without hesitation, he said, "That big white rock."

Decades later we remember it.  What monument to your childhood do you remember?

I miss that rock.

2 comments:

Henry Vogel said...

Yeah, I loved that rock and it was really huge when it was dug up! Who was it you ran into?

Barbara V. Evers said...

Henry, Lisa and I got a chance to reminisce with Bill after the service on Monday.