2009.10.21 What best to bring back?

Written 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.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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