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Some Kids I Have Known
Blow Up the Bridge


“Gramma!  Gramma!  Have you heard? They are going to blow up the Old River Bridge!”  Her grandson had an impish grin on his face and she should have known from that there was more involved.

“What bridge?  Why?  Oh, I don't believe it!”  The grandson had caught her attention. She watched him as he swung his arms back and forth together while turning his head back and forth all the while grinning.

“Yep!  They are a blowin' it up, for sure. Guess what (which was his favorite expression) Guess what?  There's going to be a new bridge.

Gramma Miriam was skipping around the kitchen holding her grandson's hands as they danced a hop skipping circle around and around.

“Hoooorah!  Hoooorah!  Hooorah!  Three cheers for the powers that be.” Her grandson had known just how to pick up her day and it had certainly worked.

The aging woman was all at once in reverie about the old bridge. As clear as crystal in her mind was the time sixty years ago when they had crossed the river on a pontoon boat while in their car. Her mother had gathered them all to the front seat, rolled the windows on the car down, even though it was freezing cold outside.  All the while,  she was advising them what to do if  their car slipped off the boat or if the boat should sink.  The old bridge had collapsed and this was before the new bridge was built. Sixty years ago saw that bridge serve the heavy traffic back and forth between Kay and Osage counties.

If Miriam enjoyed the learning about the new bridge from her Grandson, this was nothing compared to the fact that everyone who came through the house brought her the news.

“Now this is the time for a celebration,”  Miriam reasoned to herself. “How can I do this and how shall I do it?”  Clearly this would need to have some thought. The people in the community all had jobs and were working continually with little time for anything but the always required regular holidays. “What would be a way to express the communities thank you and gratitude for this wonderful new bridge?”

The bridge in question had been a headache for everyone. Her brother, who was a   road  construction,  contracting business,  absolutely forbid the family to drive over it. His logic was the old bridge had been built before the Kaw Dam. The systematic regular release of water from the dam brought massive amounts of water under the old bridge tantamount to a flood stage. Engineers build these bridges to allow for occasional flooding over the years, not for flooding every month as sometimes happens when heavy rain builds up  water  behind the dam.  It was an accurate observation. However, the miles via the shortened route by using  the old bridge were cut down considerably. This made the risk worth taking.

Miriam, in the car by herself,  crept slowly up on the bridge.  “I have to make one more trip over you just as a farewell.”  Shaky spans heaved and rattled. The boards under the wheels of her car creaked and groaned. Up above she could see the rattle and quivering of the long rusty, slender,  metal supports. She looked down to the boiling waters of the river which were flooded from the recent heavy rains. Lined up behind her was a string of cars. At two thousand pounds a car the five thousand pound load limits were way over, she was sure. Over to the other side, a line of cars also waited for them to get across the one lane available.

“Is this the main stream everyone talks about?”  Miriam joked with no one but herself.  “I won't be so funny talking if this thing goes down. I must be crazy to take one more chance on this bridge.”

When she one more time arrived at the other side of the river her mind was so grateful to get across the thing it occurred to her what could be done in the way of a thank you note.

“I'll just go to Hobby Lobby, purchase a fancy wood plaque and have the folks around the neighborhood sign it after I've lettered a thank you note in calligraphy on it.”

Miriam congratulated herself on the idea. It seemed much easier than trying to get the people in the neighborhood together to socialize. Summer heat was upon them, a tent would have to be rented, and who knows what else?  This was just a better, easier way. She heard the Ponca tribe had contributed 450,000 dollars toward the new bridge. The Osages had also contributed no telling how much. If nothing else when pow-wow time came around she could easily get the signing of the plaque done then.


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