My Downtown Memories

Thanks to Mike Stanton’s post in Writing Wranglers and Warriors for inspiring this. When I was growing up in the 1960’s, my family was living in Tucson, Arizona, and a trip downtown was exciting because we had to drive through a large tunnel in order to get there. Dad or Mother kept honking the horn, as we drove through, and I loved the way the sound reverberated.

Once downtown, I enjoyed shopping in department stores with escalators and elevators. During the Christmas season, visiting Santa Claus was the highlight of any shopping trip. We often ate at a cafeteria, where my favorite meal was turkey with dressing and sweet potatoes. On my eleventh birthday, my parents took me and my younger brother to dinner at an Italian restaurant, where we ate outside on a patio.

The Tucson Community Center opened downtown while we were still living there, and Dad and I heard such performers as The Carpenters and Sonny and Cher. This facility also had a music hall where we heard performances of such works as Benjamin Britton’s A Celebration of Carols and Karl Orf’s Carmina Burana. We even heard a production of Rosini’s The Barber of Seville.

After we moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, in 1973, going downtown wasn’t nearly as exciting. The only tunnels were underpasses on the freeway. None of the department stores had escalators. One had an elevator, but it was old and creaky and had to be run by a human operator. However, there was a café where I enjoyed drinking milk shakes after school.

Now, that café has since been replaced by another that doesn’t serve milk shakes. The department store with the elevator is gone, as are other stores that were there during my childhood. I still enjoy walking downtown from my home in favorable weather to do banking and other errands.

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Now, in celebration of National Poetry Month, I’ll conclude with a poem I wrote that was inspired by a childhood memory of downtown Sheridan at night. This is an acrostic in which the first letter of each line spells “downtown.” You can click below to hear me read it.


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MOONLIGHT MADNESS

Dancing lights from cars pass
on busy sidewalks
with stores of all sorts to delight shopers who have
not a care in the world, as they stroll
to Penney’s, Woolworth’s
on streets that are crowded
with babies in strollers, children, and adults
needing nothing more than to shop and enjoy.

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What do you remember about downtown when you were growing up? What has changed since then?

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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The Parking Lot Slog

Thanks to Alice Massa for inspiring this. In her post, she shares her winter travel adventures with her guide dog and explains why her accomplishments should have earned her an Olympic medal. I don’t have a guide dog, but here’s something I did last week that should have earned me an Olympic medal.

Last Thursday, a friend, who uses a walker, picked me up, and we drove to a restaurant downtown where we planned to meet others for our monthly friendship club luncheon. There were no empty parking spaces close to the restaurant, so we ended up in a lot about half a block away. Most of the week had been cold, with temperatures only in the teens most of the time, dropping below zero at night. On this particular day though, it was up to thirty degrees, which meant everything was turning to slush, including the parking lot.

The only thing to do was slog through the slush. Because of fear of falling at our age, my friend and I, clinging to her walker for dear life, made our way through the slush like two little old ladies out for an afternoon walk. We somehow managed to get to the street and across it to the sidewalk, which was clear, without falling flat on our backs. Now that should have earned us a gold medal.

Can you think of any winter adventures you survived that should have earned you an Olympic medal? I hope you’re staying warm and upright through these frigid, treacherous winter months. Take heart. Spring is just around the corner.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

***

Sunday Best: Lunch at the Branding Iron

This past Thursday, some friends and I decided to get out of town for a while. We drove to Dayton, a little town situated about twenty miles north of Sheridan at the base of Wyoming’s Bighorns. The town offers a splendid view of the mountains, but on this day, all we could see was smoke from the many forest fires raging in Montana.

We ate lunch at a restaurant called the Branding Iron. This is an ordinary café, located in the heart of downtown Dayton. It serves hamburgers and other items you usually find in such establishments. I ordered what they called a branding iron burger: two patties with bacon, cheese, tomatoes, onions, pickles, onion rings, and barbecue sauce, all on a bun of course.

The first order of business was to eat the onion rings perched on top of everything else. Once they were gone, I put the sandwich together, but it was still huge. So, to the amusement of my companions, I picked it up with both hands, held it over the plate, opened my mouth as wide as I could, and dug in. That branding iron burger soon became a part of Wyoming history.

My father, may he rest in peace, would have been proud. My scale, on the other hand, was not happy. Oh well, you only live once, right?

What’s the best thing that happened to you this past week? Please tell me about it in the comment field. I hope something good happens to you this coming week.

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

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