Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Bridge (07/31/08)
TITLE: The Old Iron Bridge
By Ivie Bozeman
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Two concrete and steel bridges span the Ochlocknee River now on the smooth interstate I am traveling. To the left of the road, barely visible in the heavy green foliage of a South Georgia Summer, I saw it—the old iron bridge of my childhood. It stands a short distance down the river, unmarked, but for me it needed no identification.
Pulling off the road, I park and walk down the overgrown winding path to the old bridge. The dirt road still runs up to the beginning of the iron bridge bed which makes up the bottom of the arched metal structure. I walk out to its middle and glance down into the flowing waters, much dirtier now than the pristine stream I remembered.
I stand on the bridge to my childhood and let the memories flow. This bridge had been my gateway to the world. I remembered the year 1947 when floods came; water rose over the bridge, covering the road, making it all part of the angry flowing stream of the river. School was suspended until the waters receded. The buses could not cross the river to pick up the students in the Ellabelle District.
On Saturday afternoons my family crossed this bridge on our way to Thomasville to buy groceries. The following day we crossed on our way to church. The older boys at my school had crossed this bridge to go to World War II and my peers had crossed it on their way to the Korean Conflict. Many of them had not returned to their childhood home. I thought of the time when a bumble bee had caused a friend to almost wreck his truck on this site. The little insect had crawled down the man’s back and was stinging. He stopped the truck just after crossing the bridge to seek relief. Another seven year old and I, on the back of the truck, laughed at the man’s antics to remove the bee until we cried.
I too crossed the bridge one day on my way into the wider world. While I was gone, progress arrived and a new world emerged. The bridge, once called the Confederate Bridge, in honor of the soldiers of the Civil War has been replaced. Fortunately, someone had seen the historic significance and preserved it for me and for future generations to come.
Standing here now, one hand touching the iron, I knew I’d found the Gateway back to my childhood. There are many roads leading into and from the area today. In fact, my little home spot, Ellabelle, is not on the modern map. I have been into the world and traveled far; but now, I am home. Until that day when I depart again for my celestial home, I will cherish the old iron bridge.
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