Monday, August 15, 2016

The Construction Summers by Bob Krech

When I was little, there was something about trucks that attracted me. Like a magnet. Maybe just the size. Like a big redwood, or the pyramids, or a mountain. They demanded attention.

Then there was the noise. Trucks announced themselves with a mashing of gears and roaring engines as they rolled through our streets. I was four years old the summer we moved into our neighborhood. It was still very much under construction. What had been a cornfield with a few ancient landmark trees, was rapidly becoming a suburb to be known as Nassau II. 

I would follow the trucks every day to their construction sites. Construction sites were my absolute favorite playground as a kid. (This was before I discovered baseball) Especially during the summer when there was a lot of construction and for me, a lot of free time.

Trucks rolled up and down our streets everyday, bringing wood, gravel, dirt, sewer pipes, stone, and brick. We would dutifully follow them on our bikes or on foot to the construction site. We would watch from the street during the day as they unloaded their contents. I was especially fond of dump trucks, letting go their loads of dirt and gravel, making huge hills were once it was just flat, uninteresting ground.

These dirt hills were excellent areas for all kinds of quality kid activity. Climbing up and then sliding down the dirt hill was of course a natural. King of the Hill, where you tried to stay on top by throwing everybody else down was also high on the list. We also scavenged the site for wood, nails, stone, and brick. We used this cast off material to make our own little huts in the woods. 

I must admit we physically explored those half-finished houses, young trespassers that we were, climbing down into open basements and up temporary wooden stairs into second stories where we could imagine ourselves anything from pirates to kings to generals. It was like a stage set that was purposefully unfinished so as to allow the imagination of the playwright to make it whatever he wished.

As I remember, construction went on for two summers while the neighborhood expanded till it reached its limits. Finally the construction trucks stopped coming. A sad day indeed. Fortunately they were soon replaced by trucks that were just as interesting in their own ways; bread trucks, milk trucks, mosquito control trucks, and ice cream trucks. Each with its own charms for a kid. We followed those too for sure. But those were different summers.

2 comments:

  1. I love this so much - the unfinished sets to allow for the staging of childhood imagination. Such a beautiful evocation of enchanted bygone summers....

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  2. Ah...I remember the house that was being built next door to my best friend's in the 2nd grade. Your description took me right back there.

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