Sunday, April 11, 2010

The TRIGGer Has Been Pulled

I'm gonna label this as a My Town Monday Post, but in actuality it has a tighter focus than the town I live. If you've read this blog for anytime at all you know I live in Amarillo, Texas. I have never called anyplace else home although for a number of years I did live out in the boonies, far beyond the city limit signs. These days I am once again a city dweller just as I was for the first 18 years of my life.

Of those first eighteen years, I spent every last one of them living on this street.

Trigg Street.

My house sat on a corner lot of what I'd describe as a lower middle class neighborhood on the far southeastern corner of Amarillo. It was a great place to grow up. Two blocks to the south a boy found nothing but empty fields. Only a mile or so to the south lay more open country and if we boys dared to chance the ire of the farmer who owned it, there was a small fishing pond we could sneak to and fish. We were close enough to being out of town that the firecrackers stands were but a mere bike ride away and many a day we dug aluminum cans out of the alley dumpsters to provide the funds for our afternoon destruction.

But my street had something unique to the neighborhood. Row after row, street after street for every lot was occupied. The houses had all been built in the late sixties and early seventies and apparently the market had been good but through all of the Oakdale edition there wasn't but one vacant lot -- two houses down and directly across the street from mine.

We played countless games of baseball there. yes breaking the occasional window, yes losing balls to backyards to dogs and grouchy old men we feared.

We played football there despite the fact there were more goatheads and stickers than blades of grass.

We settled our differences with our fists the way boys used to do. No one ran home for a weapon or to have their parents file a restraining order. My short memoir piece titled The Hard Way and first published with Opium Magazine was set at the vacant lot.) click here to read it.

We played demolition derby with our dirt bikes on that lot. The object of that game was the run into and crash your friend without putting your foot down. The last person riding who hadn't put a foot down was the winner. Yeah we spent a lot of time repairing bent chain sprockets, patching the tubes from those goatheads, and denying we put our foot down.

I made friends at that lot.

I made enemies there too.

At least enemies in the sense that you have them at the age of 9 ... 10 ... or 11

My buddy Jason and I waged a war on the red ants that continually claimed the dirt lot for themselves. We mixed concoctions from the chemicals we found in my garage and in truth it's a miracle none of them ever blew up or asphyxiated us. Some of them were smoking and bubbling as we poured them into the anthill despite the fact they had no heat source. Please of you work for the EPA disregard anything I have typed here.

Sometimes we got lucky and found a horny toad who'd come to the lot to dine on the many ants. No, we never actually got on the spit blood from it's eyes though we certainly tried.

I shed a tons of body fluid on that lot. From pints of blood in the fights, bicycle demolition derby, and tackle football games, buckets of sweat from playing out in the 100 degree summertime heat, and yes even salty tears when things didn't go my way.

But last week, I had my saddest moment ever in regards to that vacant lot. You see my dad still lives in the house I grew up in and when I pulled up and looked down the street this is what I spied ...Forty years after the first house on the block was built and nearly that many since any of them were built, SOMEONE has built over every the hallowed ground of my childhood.

Here is what it looks like from the driveway of my old house.

The site of that lot covered up is both foreign and odd to me. I am 37 years old father of two, but in many ways seeing that freshly framed and bricked house makes me for the first time feel like childhood is over, never to be reclaimed.

It is highly doubtful that me and all my old pals from the neighborhood ever would have ever stepped foot on that rough, uneven lot together again, much less broke out the BMXs or footballs, but I felt better knowing that there was at least a chance. And I hope like hell the people take good care of my red ants.

For more My Town Monday posts from all over the globe, or to join in with one of your own please visit the My Town Monday site.


Phats said...

This was a good post and a sad post all in one! I like your memories of growing up there, I had some like that as well in my childhood home, especially all us neighborhood kids playing freeze tag. Those were the days!

Unfortunately times are a changing :(

Thanks again for playing in the bracket challenge college football right around the corner

Barrie said...

I love this post. It really tugged at my heart strings! And how great to see a My Town Monday post here!! (BTW, I did add your link.)

Being Beth said...

Great post, Travis! I have the same feeling of childhood lost whenever I return to my old stomping grounds - the woods and creek, lake all now covered by houses, the lake turned into a park. I've always kinda hoped those living in the houses built on my woods know they're living on sacred ground.

Rick said...

Reading this posting sure brings back memories, Trav. My old neighborhood, way at the edge of civilization, is being turned into a suburb. The woods we used to play and fight in has been declared a protected wetlands so we can't play in it anymore.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

No matter who builds there, that site will always be a vacant lot in your heart! Great story!

Texanne said...

Beautiful post, Travis. Inspiring and sad. Thank you.

Old Kitty said...


Awwww great memories - shame about how development has take over now.. it's the curse of today I'm afraid.

But you have the memories and they're as vivid as if they had happened yesterday!

I love your story of Slobert Spitlow!


Take care

Eric said...

Great post, Travis. I had to go out and read your story at Opium Magazine. That was an awesome one as well. I'm really glad it got published.

Ain't it funny how simple things like paving over an empty lot can end a chapter in our lives? I don't go by the house where I grew up anymore (haven't in years, in fact) because the people who live there didn't keep up the land the way my Dad did. It's heart-wrenching and sad, and I'd rather retain my good memories as they are. Thanks for sharing another great glimpse into your past.

Beth said...

What struck me about this post is the fact that we all used to play OUTSIDE!
Great memories.

Charles Gramlich said...

Every place like this needs a vacant lot. We had a big one just behind our house and played a lot there. I'm talking about when Josh was little. I grew up in the country.

Bubblewench said...

What a great post with a bittersweet ending... I grew up on 26 acres of forest. Over the years, family has sold off the property. Now there are houses where I used to hide in the bushes. Pools where we would ride our 3-wheelers...

It's odd how the nostalgia rears its head with change.

Cloudia said...

A lovely post about the treasures of unstructured time and places for kids....

Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

DrillerAA09 said...

I can actually remember telling my mom that I was going down to the school yard because someone wanted to fight me. She let me go. Later I found out that dad was watching from afar, just to make sure it was a fair fight. Those were the days.

More fishing lures today.

Lana Gramlich said...

You know, that's partially why I never went back to my old neighborhood. It had already changed before I left & I can only imagine that the wonderful natural areas have only further been raped. <:(

the walking man said...

Big difference between your young Amarillo and My young Detroit. we used to go play in the industrial areas (really) train tracks, loading docks, week end empty streets. Should go back for a look see.

Dawn said...

It is a weird feeling when the scene of so many of your childhood memories get get built over.

Your description of your hometown reminded me strongly of Stephen King country. Are you sure you're not a horror writer masquerading as a romance writer?

Give it ago - I've read everything by King and Koontz - I need someone to move onto!

pattinase (abbott) said...

I grew up in Philly-also in a lower middle class neighborhood. Very different in some ways; very much the same in others.

Terrie Farley Moran said...

A sad, wonderful post.

The first building (home to us!)of my childhood was torn down along with the entire neighborhood around it and one of the largest housing projects in New York City went up in its place.

I'm sure I am not the only one who misses the old tenements.

Time does march on . . .


Jessica Nelson said...

Oh not! That's so sad. :-( I know what you're feeling. Seeing beloved things change is hard.

B.E. Sanderson said...

I'm sorry for your loss, Travis. It really sucks to go back to your childhood and find out how much of it is either gone or changed. I went to visit my mother - who's long since moved out of my childhood home - and I ventured back to the old homeplace. The pine tree we planted is still there, but pretty much everything else looks different. I won't be going back again. It's just too hard.

Bernita said...

"It's odd how the nostalgia rears its head with change."
Bubblewench said it.
Places where I played have been reclaimed by the forest, the river has cut a new course.

AvDB said...

My parents still live in the house of my childhood and the fields and forests where I once played are all buried beneath ticky tacky. All that remains are my memories and the faded swish of a scar on my cheek from playing dusk hide-and-seek in the brambles.

Everything changes. Mostly not for the better.