"How Not to Ride a Camel"
How not to ride a camel
A NICE, QUIET NEIGHBORHOOD
22 August 2005
As I was driving home from the supermarket today, I suddenly noticed how pretty our street looks.
The nice, full trees make it look like a nice, peaceful neighborhood and the trees in the center, which almost arch over to reach the trees on either side, give you a sense of driving through a park.
That was the intent.
It wasn't always like that. There was no island in the middle of the street when we moved here in 1973 and that caused lots and lots of problems.
The main problem is that we are just a couple of blocks from the high school, and, as you can see, this is a rather wide street. In addition, if I turn the camera and point behind me...
...you can see that there is a little jog in the street. I think that's because the street originally ended about where the jog is. I'm not sure what was there, but a ways down, there was another street and at some point (before we moved here) they decided to join them together (which is why the street name changes when you pass a certain point), and since they didn't line up, it was necessary to make the little jog so that the two streets would connect.
Because this is such a wide street so close to the high school, it became the local drag strip. At least once a year, we could count on some idiot losing control of his vehicle on the turn and causing a major accident.
One year it was a motorcycle that spun out of control.
In February of 1976, we were sitting in our family room watching the Winter Olympics from Innsbruck, Austria. Dorothy Hamill was doing a Salchow or a Hamill Camel or something and suddenly we heard a huge crash. The house shuddered. When we ran outside, we discovered our big GMC van 90° from where it was parked, now blocking the carport, and smashed into the side of the house (we were lucky it didn't come through the wall). The car that did the damage had spun out of control on the curve, had somehow run through our neighbor's yard, crashed through the fence between our houses, knocked our car around, and ended up impaled on our recently planted fruitless mulburry tree.
You do irrational things at a time like this. I ran for my camera to take a picture, so we could identify the car later. It never occurred to me that the car was impaled on the tree and that it would take a tow truck to remove it. The kid who was driving ran off but, this being an honest town and all, he was brought back by his father some time later. (The car would have identified him anyway).
Insurance covered our losses, the kid probably got a slap on the wrist, we replanted the tree and repainted the house and life went on.
The worst accident happened the year after that when another car spun out of control and went through the bedroom wall of a house across the street from us, setting the house on fire. The car stopped at the foot of the bed of one of the little girls, who was asleep at the time. The family all got out safely, but half of the house suffered major fire damage and the family cat was killed.
It was a terrible night. We all gathered at a neighbor's house while firemen fought the fire. I remember sitting with one of the children in my arms, stroking her hair. It was a night when everybody forgot that nobody in the neighborhood was speaking to us.
After that accident we had neighborhood meetings and meeting with city representatives and we demanded that something be done.
We hoped that they would put in speed bumps, but they were afraid of some sort of liability with them (though now you find them all over town). Several other options were discussed and finally it was suggested that if we planted trees in the middle of the street, it would eventually give it a more "residential" look, as the trees reached maturity, and it would look less like a speedway.
It was a major project and the trade-off for having the island in the middle of the street is that there is no longer any on-street parking on our side of the street.
But that's a minor inconvenience, and apparently the idea was a good
one because there hasn't been a single accident on this street since.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Jasmine is going back to Ashley's tomorrow.