2009.10.21 What best to bring back?

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

It swayed. It had gaps here and there. It was noisy when the big kids ran across. It was just a wonderfully terrifying experience.

What am I talking about? Well, hold on a little bit. Let me work my way up to it.

Last week I ran an old column about searching for a Morenci landmark. If someone came to town and said they wanted a photograph of Morenci’s landmark, what would it be?

There probably isn’t anything or else it would be worked into what’s called the flag of this newspaper—the nameplate at the top of the front page.

My idea was the sewage lagoons and I think a scenic shot could be created out there, especially with the help of Photoshop. I can almost see the sailboats with their spinnakers flying, working hard to avoid that little island of...things we’ve left behind.

I was thinking the other day about what I’d like to bring back from the past. Each generation has its memories of things that no longer exist. I hear about a brick factory and pickle vats and a covered bridge, but I never knew those features. Long before my time.

Many of the things I think about nearly all disappeared in one decade, during the 1960s and on into the early 1970s. That must have been the time to tear down.

First of all is Stair Auditorium. That has to be at the top of my “bring it back” list. Such an impressive building. I wonder how many people it sat. It seemed so huge when I was a little kid, and that’s the only time I saw the inside. It was closed up by the time I was a teenager.

I remember my father and Clyde Brasher’s magic show on the stage for a Kiwanis Talent Show and that’s about it, other than Halloween candy and Santa Claus in the lobby.

I’d like to see the old New York Central depot again off to the north of Coomer Street. I used to play around there a lot.

After pedaling away from the depot, I’d like to see that field of testing stands that Parker Rust Proof had in what’s now the Nazarene church parking lot. It looked like a modern day array of solar collectors.

I’d pedal on down to North Street and head downtown. I’d like to see steam coming off the piles of scrap metal a little bit west of where the railroad crossed North Street. If I was lucky, the crane with the big electromagnet would be there loading the scrap onto a rail car.

It would be good to see the Salisbury Hotel standing where Morenci Deli is located. I used to deliver a newspaper to someone on the second floor.

It would be fun to walk west on the sidewalk along Main Street and stare into the dark of the bar next to the hotel, then continue past Duane’s Market where Paul was loading boxes of food for delivery and on past the post office and then back to the auditorium.

I’d turn right on Mill Street and ride between the Parker buildings, being careful not to get my tires caught where the railroad angled across the road.

Then I would be at the mill where we used to grab a handful of wheat berries and chew them like gum.

Then on toward the creek to the thing I would really like to experience again: the Football Bridge. It was the shortcut to Wakefield Park, the route that the football team took for practice after school.

Four cables strung across Bean Creek with planks attached at the base. As I wrote at the start, the bridge swayed and sometimes there were planks missing that you had to step across.

It was a fearsome crossing for a little kid. Such a long drop down would result in bodily damage. When the creek was flooded, a slip off would lead to drowning.

And care always had to be taken to make sure there were no big boys in the area, because they would run across when you were in the middle. They knew you were scared and they made the bridge jump around and the banging of the loose planks only added to the terror.

I was thinking about how glad I was that the Football Bridge didn’t exist when I was the father of young children. I would have worried about them falling off the thing.

Then I thought about the value of that risky crossing: facing a challenge, conquering a fear, instilling a sense of adventure.

That rickety old bridge is what I want to bring back from the past.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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