The sun was still slightly above the old Georgetown Bridge that spanned the Wabash River. I suppose in its heyday, the bridge was an important means for traversing across the river that meandered throughout the plains, forests and valleys of central and southern Indiana. It was not any wider than one car’s width at best and if two cars happened to meet, one would have to give way and back up until it had reached the riverbank. During the last few years of the bridge’s life, the concrete railing had begun to deteriorate and crumble into the water below.
As a boy, I spent many summers walking out toward the center span of the bridge so that I could watch the fish and turtles go about their daily routines. Like most small boys, I used to toss rocks or pieces of crumbling concrete into the water below. I’m not sure why I found that fun or exciting, but I guess that it was just expected of young boys to do such things. My grandpa told me a story one time about a fighter jet that flew underneath the bridge as it barely missed touching the surface of the water. I can’t tell you if that was a true story or just one of his tall tales, so I will leave it up to you and your own imaginations.
As I sat in the canoe, eagerly waiting for just one more hungry fish to bite the worm off my hook, the dimming sunlight began to sparkle on the water like a million diamonds. Magically, my fishing line seemed to disappear right before my eyes. Actually, there was no magic involved, it was just because the sun had blinded my vision somewhat. What little wind that had been blowing up the Wabash Valley all afternoon was gradually slacking off to nothing more than an occasional gentle puff on my skin. With daylight fading and my hunger growing, I quickly reeled in my line and lifted the anchors out of the murky river water that smelled like a mixture of fish, dirt and unknown pollutants, and began paddling toward the north side of the river. After securing the boat and stowing away all of my fishing gear, I headed up the handmade stone steps toward my grandparents’ house. Supper consisted of fried turtle, fried taters (potatoes), corn, green beans and many other country culinary delights. The meal was topped off with homemade chocolate cream pie or cherry cobbler for dessert, both of which I politely ate.