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The only link with the past lies in memory, and from the "good old days" of childhood, many memories yet stand. Many seemed doomed to fall before the press of other, newer, memories, so it seems fit that the old ones should be recorded, if only to be objects of laughter in the future.
     The dump holds an almost unforgettable place in visions of grade school days. Ours was a large, water-filled hole, which the city attempted to replace by slowly filling the hole with junk and rubbish. The ideal place for childish rambles! It had the added attraction of danger almost everywhere. Rumor had it that not a few kids in the past had fallen off a raft, or walked on too-thin ice, and had sunk to the far-distant bottom. Stories like that didn't keep us from wandering all around the place winter or summer. It was a treasure chest of incredible vastness, ready to give us old funny books, wooden boxes, junk jewelry, assorted bottles, and a great deal of scratches, cuts and bruises. One particularly thrilling custom was a tour at the bottom of a hundred-foot drop, walking along a little ledge only a foot from the water, under which we could see the bottom dropping away to a depth of about five feet as many feet from the shore. Streams from the top of the dump inhibited our movements in summer, but in winter formed really beautiful grottoes ten feet high and a half-foot wide.
     Then it was decided to rid the neighborhood of the foul-smelling eyesore. Draining was begun, and a whole new world opened to us. Rubbish long underwater came into view as the water level lowered. Long vistas of mud-covered crates, mingled with great childish riches, were uncovered. The only trouble was, as soon as the water level sank just low enough so we could get to any part of the dump quickly overland, the dumping company clamped down on trespassers. Many were the times we would be chased over unsteady boxes by equally unsteady men with long, wicked-looking objects in their hands.
     The depths seemed to be too great to make draining cheap any longer, so blacktop was poured over the rest of the dump, making a surface hard enough for trucks to drive on without risk. Another playground of childhood bit the dust.
     They will never drain Portage Lakes, so THAT stamping ground will never disappear. Canoeing down a hidden, tree-lined, scum-covered, turtle- and fish-filled stream is my idea of a perfect way to spend a nice afternoon; and many happy afternoons have been spent there. I hope to have many more excursions like those.
     Another thrill that is impossible to capture again is the night ride through the Ruby Mountains, en route to Salt Lake City, Utah. Following the taillights of a Buick through a canyon containing a highway, railroad, and stream in the black of an eventful night is an experience hard to forget. As night was falling, we passed the last city before Salt Lake, one hundred miles to the west. Deciding to rush as much as possible, we got into the Ruby Mountains just in time for an impression of a raw, red, rocky cliff on each side of the road to sink indelibly into my memory. The rest of the ride took place with occasional glimpses of the foot of the cliff in the swaying headlights as the road swung around a perilous curve, the white-capped road of the river below, the clatter of the tires passing over the railroad tracks or the bridges over the river. Going fifty miles an hour, following tail-lights which would suddenly disappear as the road descended, or which would miraculously ascend off to the side like an airplane as the road went through its sinuous gyrations: that is not my idea of a calm way to end a day already made memorable by the Great Salt Lake and the untamed wildness of the Ruby Range. I hardly slept that night, as in my mind's eye I careened from side to side while the car turned, lunged toward the windshield as it slowed, or was pressed back in the seat as it accelerated.
     Riotous rides bring to mind a fleet glimpse of myself hanging on to a bar two feet in front of me, as a particularly dangerous roller coaster carried a person who didn't know that the bar didn't fold down over his lap, and that the necessary strap was dangling over the side of the car. Then there was the stomach-wrenching Flying Turns at Euclid Beach.
     An amusement park in summer may be riotous, but in winter it is a place of mystery, and for me at least, a place of a painful memory. I recall a long shadowy view of abandoned rides, boarded-up concessions, paper-strewn sidewalks, utter silence, spooky shadows, and at the end, a small kiddie roller coaster. Being only about ten years old, and definitely not knowing better, I decided to play "rolleycoaster" and walk the tracks. Toward the end I got particularly carefree and started running, only to trip on a badly-nailed board, and go flying through the air, and land on my head on a POINTED wooden pole. I don't remember hitting the ground, but I do remember the look of terror on my friend's face as he saw the blood welling down the side of my head. I dizzily made my way to a rest room, washed my crimson handkerchief, and attempted to hitchhike home with a wad of toilet paper on my head to stop the bleeding, blood on my shirt, and---I'll wager---a very surprised face. After rushing to the hospital, I was given six stitches (after being carted to two different hospitals, until I found one that would take care of me), the only anesthesia given being some exquisite-smelling hand lotion on the nurse. To cover up the bald spot and gory bandage, I wore a crazy handkerchief on my head, until I was laughed into removing it. The hair grew back around the cut, but there is a streak of pink in any crew cut I?ve gotten ever since.
     Equally mysterious, but not quite so painful, were the choir room and a dirty hall closet in grade school. Being somewhat of a mystic, I enjoyed holding seances in the seventh grade. The choir room was a rectangular room in the basement, and, supposedly to air the room, six holes were cut in the top and bottom of the door. Sitting in the rear of the room in the dark and in a receptive mood, you could get anyone to swear that the holes in the door, already giving a dull green light, grew more intense and terrifyingly larger. Seances came and went, but the only still-unexplained thing happened one day with about seven of us in the back of the room. Mass hysteria grew to a fever pitch, and in the blackness a chord from the piano at the door end of the room was enough to send us all flying into the hall. Everyone in the group swore that they had nothing to do with it, and I must admit that I would have been the only one crazy enough to sneak up to the front of the room and scare the wits out of everyone present. I guess I wasn't.
     The hall closet didn't have the benefit of holes in the door, but the vases that were stored in it became the basis for many atrociously impossible imaginings in the pitch-blackness of a noon recess.
     Summer recess brought camp life. I missed the fun of the annual scab hunt, because some spoilsport told me that there weren't any such things as scabs, and that the camp councilors dressed up in strange clothes and broke into the circle of campers in the night lit only by a cloud-shrouded full moon. Now I am rather disappointed I crept into the safety of my cabin before the fun started. Campfire, with its completely messed up production of "Negotium Perambulans in Tenebris," its doctor who didn't know enough to use the hatchet on the bench beside me in the shadow-show operation, and flying saucers were quite the things. Yes, I said "Flying Saucers." I wasn't particularly interested in the Indian story being told by the camp chaplain, and when the fellow next to me nudged me and told me to look for a flying saucer between two tall pines, I did it without thinking too much of it. Imagine my AWE when a milky disk rose silently from the side of one tree, and disappeared slowly behind the other. All the normal things such as hair-on-end, shivers-up-back, heart-skipping-beat (in throat), which normally show fear, came to me in a flash. I didn't even bother to think how the fellow on my right knew there would be a saucer up there, but I turned to the guy on my left and croaked, "Flying Saucer up there." Again, slowly, silently, majestically, ominously, ghostly, it rose and fell. He laughed. "Oh, you mean that spotlight on the clouds?" I don't think I was ever so relieved in my life---except maybe when I was told that it was actually the chaplain swathed in bandages who sat up in his sarcophagus and squirted water at me, and not an ancient Egyptian mummy on tour from the Cleveland Museum. Incidentally, while waiting to be shown the "mummy" I heard "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" sung to complete, utter, ridiculous completion for the only time. Thank goodness.