1-2-3 JUMP!

Old Appleton Bridge 07-11-2013Here are five young women Friend Shari and I met at the Old Appleton bridge. They said they are all from Cape.

I went to the trouble of getting their last names, but in case anything they did needs plausible deniability, I’ll just go with first names, left to right: Makayla, 16; Nicole, 16; Sara, 17; Sylvia, “almost 18,” and Autumn, 16.

I dubbed Makayla The Smart One because she didn’t engage in any of the Tomfoolery of her friends. She hinted that she might do so when there would be no photographic evidence around, but I don’t know if she did. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)

The Wild Child

Old Appleton Bridge 07-11-2013

“Almost 18” Sylvia was quickly named The Wild Child. When I first met her, I asked what the girls planned to do. “You’re not going to do anything crazy like jumping off the bridge are you?”

“Do you want me to?” she asked.

“No, no, no,” I replied. “I wouldn’t ask you to do anything like that. People drown here all the time.”

The next thing I heard was “SPLASH!”

The floodgates opened

Old Appleton Bridge 07-11-2013

After Syliva’s head popped out of the water attached to the rest of her body and she pronounced the water deep enough that she hadn’t even touched bottom, the rest of the girls, minus The Smart One, lined up. There was some discussion about jumping on “Three!”

The message was garbled

Old Appleton Bridge 07-11-2013Sara, The Countess, jumped ON three.

Countess Sara was all alone

Old Appleton Bridge 07-11-2013I thought maybe the other girls wanted TWO water safety checks before they launched, because Sara was on her own.

The first shall be last

Old Appleton Bridge 07-11-2013The Wild Child must have heard that “the first shall be last,” because she was the last of the quartet to hit the water this time.

Getting it together

Old Appleton Bridge 07-11-2013The girls lined up for another go. I heard them working out the details. “This time I count 1-2-3, THEN we all jump.” The timing was a little better this round.

Time to dry out

Old Appleton Bridge 07-11-2013

Shari and I left the crew hanging out and drying out. I took a careful count to make sure we were leaving behind the same number of girls we saw when we arrived at the bridge. If anything happened after that, I’d go looking for The Wild Child.

Former Wild Child Shari was content with wading in ankle-deep water below the dam. Wife Lila, in a text message, commented, “I jumped off that bridge once. Glad there are no pictures.”




Old Jackson Road

These pictures were taken at the intersection of County Roads 618, 620 and 306. Let me tell you how we got there.

When we moved out on Kingsway Drive, we – like most folks – called it Old Jackson Road. If you didn’t take Highway 61 through the 10-Mile Rose Garden to get from Cape to Jackson, you’d go by way of Old Jackson Road. You’d coast down from our house near Kurre Lane, make a sweeping right-hand curve past the Cape La Croix Creek concrete marker (it’s been moved) and keep on going. There was no such thing as Lexington in those days.

Girls sure were careless.

Just before you got to where Route W turns to the right, you’d cross an old steel bridge over 3-Mile Creek (where there was a deep swimming hole). It’s concrete these days and the water’s too shallow to swim.Thinking back on it, that area might have been used for more than swimming. We boys were mystified about how so many girls lost their underwear there.

After you passed the Seabaugh farm on the left, you’d curve around to go through the Houck Railroad Cut that features prominently in Steinhoff family lore. (Dynamite was involved.)

618 is closed for construction

Finally, you’d come to a place where you had to turn left to go over I-55. That’s the intersection of 618, 620 and 306. That’s where the first picture with the Road Closed sign was taken. If you went straight, you’d climb a short hill, then plunge down a steep hill with a sharp curve at the bottom. That’s significant because the last time I did that ride on my bike, I didn’t realize I could go that fast. When I hit the curve I became very aware of how tiny, tiny my bike tires were and how much it was going to hurt if I misjudged the curve and painted the blacktop with skin crayon.

If you survived the curve, soon you’ve find yourself staring at – and being stared BACK at – by the exotic animals that inhabited 5H Ranch. BUT, we couldn’t go that way Saturday because of the Road Closed sign.

Abandoned quarry

If you made the left turn and crossed I-55, you’d enter a curve that swept to the right and downhill. On the left was where Bill Hampton lived. His family owned Hampton’s Bakery on Broadway across from Houck Stadium. Bill shot our wedding in 1969. Just before you crossed a bridge at the bottom of the hill, there was a hill with an abandoned quarry cut into it.

You can tell from this cut why they hadn’t bothered to work it much. There’s some limestone, but it’s not of very good quality. The quarry would have been off to the left behind the trees in this photo. The road to it has been overgrown for years. About a half mile down the road was the turnoff to Old McKendree Chapel.

Hill has been taken down

Looks like the hill has been taken down enough that the ride down 618 isn’t going to be as exciting as it was.

 View back to Cape

You can see how much the grade has been flattened in this photo looking back toward Cape. It’ll be easier to climb on icy days (and on my bike).

It’s not just concrete

You’re driving on more than concrete when you go down the road” there’s an awful lot of steel in that slab. I hate to think how much of that rebar I humped one hot summer.