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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Bridge (07/31/08)

TITLE: Bridges of Memories
By Freda Douglas
08/05/08


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I was born and raised in a small town in western Pennsylvania where the Allegheny River ran along Water Street in a languid flow in the summer and froze solid in the winter time. We were a town built on the hills. If you were heading one direction away from our town you could go up the steep hill, or if you heading any place across the river the only way was to cross over the bridge.

Quoting from Cherish the Past, written by Freda Brooks Douglas in 2004 "October 13, 1856 Ė Allegheny River Bridge opened in Emlenton. It should be noted ice took out [the wooden structured] bridge in the late 1880ís, but it was rebuilt [this time of steel and cement] and it was used until the mid 1990ís [when after a Ďmoderní bridge was built upstream], the landmark bridge was destroyed.

I remember vividly you had two ways to go when you arrived on the town side of the bridge. You could either turn right to go down Water Street [now River Avenue] where the Brooks family lived or straight past the Ford garage, over the railroad tracks to
Main Street.

Not too far from us, about eight or so miles, was Foxburg with its bridge. It was a double tiered bridge with railroad track below and the vehicular one-way bridge on land level. I remember that two huge boards laid from one side to the other, spaced wide enough for a car width and they rattled as the car went across, and as a little girl scared the tar out of me.

That bridge was imploded this summer after it was replaced with a Ďmoderní structure.

When I moved to Oil City in 1952 two bridges spanned the confluence of the Oil Creek and the Allegheny River. The longest one, State Street Bridge {Veterans Bridge], connected the north side with the south side of Oil City. If you liked to be cold you would have enjoyed walking on the bridge in winter, especially if it was windy. The wind would whip up through the mesh flooring so people didnít dawdle when it was winter, especially the ladies.

I remember the winter night I went to the movies at the Drake Theatre. Now picture this scenario if you can. I lived 10 city blocks from the south side business section. I walked to the corner where the Episcopal Church stood next to the Carnegie Library. I crossed at the light, turned left at Welker and Maxwell department store, walked to the corner, cut through Al Saarís Quaker State service station, walked another long city block, and
finally came to the State Street Bridge.

Bear with me. I am a long way from the theatre. I crossed the bridge where the wind had picked up considerably. Finally I was off the bridge with seven more city blocks still to go.

After the first show was over I started the long trek home. The temperature had fallen while I was in the theatre, and about half way across the bridge I decided to stop by Famoores, a local soda fountain/news stand to see if Fred [my friend] was there for a possible ride home. He wasnít there but his best friend was. He asked me why I wanted to see Fred. When I told him, he asked me if he could take me home. I didnít really know him, but I looked at him, all 313 pounds of him, and in my mind I figured he canít possibly do me any harm.

He took me home that night, we started to date [not always amicably] and three years later we were married. So you see if it hadnít been for the State Street Bridge, I might not have met my husband.

The Petroleum Street Bridge connected the south side with the third ward. It was also made of steel mesh. If you lived on the south side and worked at Worthington Corp as I did, you learned to carry your dress shoes and wear either boots or flats over the bridge. It also had its wind pockets, especially the south end of the south side. The wind had a great time with the poodle skirts, popular during the early 1950ís.

You of the modern generation donít have pleasant memories of those of us whoíve lived through most of or over ĺ of a century. Moreís the pity.


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Sunny Loomis 08/10/08
If I find this town, I could probably retrace your steps. Nice descriptions of a town. Good job.