This is the way I remember it...
I was in the first grade at Grayhill school, my teacher was Mrs. Johnson. It was after school. I was sitting on the glider next to my mother on our front porch on the corner of Dayton Avenue and Jefferson Street, in Springfield Ohio. It was a warm and sunny spring day. The date was May 16th. The year, 1944.
My mother was reading the daily paper, the Springfield Daily News & Sun.
It was different in those days, over 64 years ago. Even at the young age of 5 or 6 it was not uncommon to go out and play with friends all day and not come home until dark. When one of the mothers would call for their kids or their dads would whistle, usually we were within earshot and would respond accordingly. And... if we didn't hear, one of the other parents or kids in the neighborhood would hear and could relay the message. Somehow we would always know or could sense when it was suppertime and always get back home in time to eat. Our parents didn't seem to mind. As kids, that's just what we did.
I had a lot of friends. Billy and Rich - the Connor kids, Russell Kimball, Alfred Bean, the Ballenger kids who I now believe were the Ballenger grandkids, and so many others. I spent lots of time with Rich Connor. He was closer to my age and we did a lot of things together. A bunch of us would go fishing or buy some weiners and take them down to Mad River and build a fire on the river bank and put the weiners on a stick and usually burn the hell out of them. But boy, they sure tasted good! We explored everything within a 5 mile radius of our homes. We really enjoyed walking the railroad tracks. We even walked the three miles to go downtown sometimes. Maybe to see a movie or just to walk through the five and dime store. We rode our bikes, we took the bus and we walked and ran and ran and walked, everywhere.
Often we would walk down to one of the train trestles which were close by. Usually the one over Mad River near the Ohio Edison plant where we cooked the weiners. Sometimes we would go to the one near the Snyder Park golf course. That one was over Buck Creek. It was a thrill for us to walk the railroad ties on the trestle. I can remember even now how exciting the feeling was to experience something so dangerous. On the trestle we had to really be careful not to slip between the ties and get our foot caught. Then there was that sensation of seeing the river so far below through the railroad ties, and having that feeling you get when your knees are weak and you think your legs might buckle. Sure, we were stupid then but we were young and just having fun. I don't think we were ever on the trestle when a train was near.
As my mom was flipping the pages of the newspaper, I recognized a picture on the front page. I was only six years old and couldn't read except for a few pages in my McGuffie Reader about Dick and Jane, their dog Spot and cat Puff. But I did recognize the picture of the train trestle near Snyder Park on the front page of that newspaper.
I remember asking Mom to read out loud what it said. She did and it changed my life forever...
I think I knew those kids.