Why Weren’t We Killed?

Photos by James D. McKeown III, courtesy Steven McKeown

Looking at this photo from Steve McKeown’s collection of his dad’s old family photos made me think of the red Radio Flyer wagon Brothers Mark and David and our buddies used to streak down Kingsway Drive.

Our wagon had a tongue which folded back so a rider could steer the wagon, unlike the rope contraption in the photo.

We trudged up the hill time after time for a 45-second ride down from in front of 1618 Kingsway Drive to the fishhook-shaped J-curve at the bottom.

A physics lesson

We discovered the elemental law of physics that heavy objects at the top of the hill have lots of potential energy that gradually bleeds off by the bottom.That was the advantage of loading up the wagon with brothers and buddies. It also meant you had people to help pull it back up to the launch site. The brothers, unfortunately, would frequently beg off, saying they were “too tired” to walk back up the hill, leaving us to pull them AND the wagon back. It was amazing how their tiredness went away when it was time for another run.

Too often, the blast to the bottom would be interrupted by the cry of “CAR!!!” that would result in the tongue being abruptly twisted in whatever direction would throw us off into a ditch for safety.

Check out the socks

This wasn’t a generation of white sock wearers. Looks like Mom must have bought his jeans with the idea that he’d grow into them, and until he did, then rolling up the cuffs would keep them from dragging in the dirt.

Looks like his shoes are holding up well. I had a lot of pairs that had been half-soled. Late in grade school days, I would nail “taps,” onto the heel. Ostensibly they were to keep your heels from wearing down, but the real reason for putting them on was to make a cool noise when you walked the hallways in school. They came in various sizes – from tiny to huge horseshoe-shaped ones that were suitable for clogging.

The coolness factor was negated if you happened to hit a slick patch of floor that would cause your legs to spread apart like a guy with one leg in the boat and one on the dock.


Fire Station No. 4 Missing

Mary Steinhoff Kingsway DrWhen I looked at this old Polaroid photo of Mother, I thought there was something odd about it. Then it dawned on me: it was taken before Fire Station No. 4 was built at the corner of Kingsway Drive and Kurre Lane.

(If you wonder how I knew it was a Polaroid, look at the brown, irregular stain at the bottom right of the photo. This was one of the early generation cameras where you had to peel the photo off the roll, then coat it with a sticky, sharp-smelling chemical which would, invariably, get all over your fingers. The fix or whatever it was never applied evenly, so the picture had streaks, and if you missed a place, you’d get this brown stain.

Neighborhood from the air

Kingsway Drive with Cape LaCroix Creek at top 1966Here’s an aerial photo taken at about this same time. I published it and some other pictures back in 2010, and it got lots of comments that are worth reading. There’s a more recent aerial here.

Click on the photos to make them larger.

Neighbor Rhonda Turns 50

Mrs. Bob Tinker 1617 Kingsway DriveWhen we moved into our house on Kingsway Drive 58 years ago, Bob and Mary Tinker lived across the street; the Grays lived next to them, the McCunes lived in a small cottage down the hill, and the Hales and Heislers in their farm houses finished off the neighborhood. We were way outside the city limits and cows grazed in the field behind our house.

That’s Mrs. Tinker in front of her house.

Boltons came Memorial Day 1994

Rhonda Bolton's 50th Birthday Party 08-02-2014Bill and Rhonda Bolton moved into the house on Memorial Day, 1994. Even though they’ve been living there 20 years and have been the best neighbors you could want, we all still call it the “Tinker House.”

They keep an eye on Mother for us. When Brother Mark kept getting a busy signal on her phone one night, he called me and I reached out for the Boltons and Carla Jordan, who lives over by Food Giant. It turned out to be a false alarm: Mother had failed to hang up the phone properly and that’s why it rang busy.

When Mother’s mower stopped while she was massacring grass the other day, Bill came over to help her push it away from the street. It’s nice to know you have friends and neighbors who will come running if you need them.

Come over for Rhonda’s party

Rhonda Bolton's 50th Birthday Party 08-02-2014Bill stopped by Friday to invite Mother to Rhonda’s 50th birthday party on Saturday. I’m not sure if he used the phrase, “if you can make it up the hill,” but that would have insured that she would attend.

“A good time was had by all”

Rhonda Bolton's 50th Birthday Party 08-02-2014That’s a line that one of The Missourian’s country correspondents would tack on to any story involving more than two people, even if it was a funeral. In this case, it was true. There was a nice mix of family, friends and neighbors, good food and even a photo booth.

Birthday party photo gallery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move through the images.

Dancing in the Trees

Utility Co Tree Trimming Kingsway Dr 04-24-2014Brother Mark and I have been looking at the trees around Mother’s house for some time. There are a lot of dead branches that could cause problems. I cut up a big one that had fallen during the winter, but there were plenty more just waiting to fall on the power line or roof. Here’s a Before shot of a maple tree that was planted when we moved into the house over half a century ago. You can see the dead branches.

I was working in the basement when Mother hollered downstairs that the tree trimmers from the power company were there. To be honest, I expected the hatrackers usually associated with utility company trimmers, and I didn’t expect them to be very flexible.

Florida Power and Light delivered excuses

Utility Co Tree Trimming Kingsway Dr 04-24-2014The power line running along our back property line in Florida had a lot of growth around it since the 2005 hurricane season, so we called Florida Power & Light this winter to see if they could trim it back before hurricane season. (We pay to have a mango tree on the line trimmed by an arborist just to keep it from being hacked up.)

When they showed up, they said that trimming the vegetation was our problem because it wasn’t a main line. “This isn’t our service loop,” I pointed out,” this line feeds every house in this block.” Several weeks went by and I figured we had lost the battle, but some guys with chain saws finally showed up.

Shade Tree Service Company

Utility Co Tree Trimming Kingsway Dr 04-24-2014Much to my pleasant surprise, the guys working for The Shade Tree Service Company out of Fenton were super nice to deal with. They told Mother what they planned to do, assured her they weren’t going to do anything to harm the trees and told her they’d clean up any mess they made. They also had a sticker on the side of the truck that said they were Professional Utility Arborists and members of the National Arborist Association and the International Society of Arborculture.

What was better was that they said they’d trim the dead branches out of the maple tree because they could fall on her service loop if they blew down. When they started cutting, I told them they could leave the larger pieces for me to cut up for firewood. They not only agreed to do that, but they offered to stack it. Since I had to cut into shorter lengths, I said that wouldn’t be necessary.

Artists in buckets

Utility Co Tree Trimming Kingsway Dr 04-24-2014The guys in the buckets were artists of weaving their way between the power, cable and phone cables. After watching them hold chainsaws at arms length and grapple with logs that made a heavy THUNKKK!! when they hit the ground, I decided I wouldn’t challenge any of them to arm wrestle.

A tip of my hard hat to them

Utility Co Tree Trimming Kingsway Dr 04-24-2014It has long been established that lumberjack is not on my list of possible occupations.

Tree trimming photo gallery

Here are random photos of the tree trimming project, including an After shot of the maple tree. They did a nice job. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the sides of the photo or use your arrow keys to move through the gallery.