LETTER: Remembering a road, roses and a Radio Flyer

May. 24, 2013 @ 04:59 AM

To the Editor:

How many of you remember little things that happened to you when you were 5 years old?

My dad was a tenant farmer, and we lived in a small house on Henley Road near Tramway. The house sat close to the road. The road was a gravel or dirt road. The road was pretty level in front of the house, but very near, the road went uphill. I suppose it was a couple hundred yards of fairly steep grade.

I had a little red wagon. A Radio Flyer. Remember those? I could pull the little wagon up the hill and get in it and coast back down at a pretty good clip. Remember that the road was gravel, and the little wagon rattled along pretty loud.

Now, since the road was somewhat steep, water had washed the ditch out about three feet deep and two feet wide. I had to be careful not to lose control at a breakneck speed of about six miles per hour and crash into the ditch.

Now the good part — our landlord lived up at the top of the hill, and the lady of the house had a large rose garden. Each year, she would prune the vines back, and she always threw the cuttings in the road ditch. You can see it coming, can’t you? The cuttings rooted and washed down the ditch until there was just a mound of roses about five feet high and maybe 10 feet wide. The vines completely covered the ditch. It was such a thicket that Br’er Rabbit couldn't go though there.

One pretty day, I pulled my little Radio Flyer all the way to the top of the hill, climbed in and came flying down right in the center of the road. That was the smoothest place, why not? With all the racket, I didn't hear the car behind me. He got real close and sat down on his horn. It scared me so suddenly that I turned hard left. Me and my wagon went through the briar thicket all the way to the bottom of the ditch. I was completely covered in rose bushes.

I managed to climb out, but had scratches all over.

I didn't stop riding down the hill, but I was much more careful after that.

Weldon Chilton