The Gravel Truck

It’s hot out here, isn’t it?!  Reminds me of how some of the summers could be where I grew up….

Remember that gravel pit that I told you about?  The one right next to our house on Drumheller Road?  Yes, the one with the barn fire.  You got it.  Over the years that we lived there, some summers would see visitors to the gravel pit:  those big double-hauling gravel semi-trucks.  We could always count on some point in mid-summer as being the infestation time (“You know, Myrtle, if them thar metal monsters is gonna show their ugly carcasses around these here parts, now’s the time they’s agonna shows up.”)  We would watch them pass by in a cloud of dust and pull into the gravel pit next to us.  They would disappear back into the gravel pit, the sound of metal banging against metal as the gravel trailers hit every pothole in the gravel pit drive.  I-69 eventually cut off the back corner of our property and a good portion of that gravel pit when it went in, so at that point these trucks went a mile further down our road to another smaller gravel pit.  And that’s where these memories really kick in.

Let me remind you that Drumheller was a dirt road, as straight as it was long.  It was an old road, built on logs in some places, which meant that usually from mid-summer on it got dry, dusty and as bumpy as a washboard, especially a mile or so down towards the fire department (which is the direction these trucks would come from).  This usually meant that we could hear these gravel semi-trucks long before we saw them.  Those trailers would bang so loud that we could hear them almost a mile away–and to a kid, it sounded like a huge monster coming for you!  (Remember as a kid watching that Sesame Street episode about “Go/Stop” where you hear someone say “Go” and watch something in the center of the TV screen that is really small and quiet get bigger and louder as it’s coming towards you and you realize in the center is a guy on a motorcycle with a bunch of other things making noise and they’re all coming right at you getting bigger and louder until you can almost see the whites of the eyes of the guy on the motorcycle until finally someone yells “STOP” and they all freeze just before they come out of the TV screen and into your living room and all you can see is the guy on the motorcycle and how close he came to getting you ??  Yeah, I know, that one always scared me too.  Still does.)

Being summer, we’d usually be playing outside in forts or on bikes or something to do with ninjas and spies and soldiers and stuff like that.  Suddenly, one of us would shush everyone else…and then we all heard it…..the distant banging of a gravel semi heading towards us, it’s metal jaws limbering up for the tasty meal it was anticipating!  We’d run down to the end of the driveway and look down the road towards the fire department.  There was a small hill in that same direction where the road descended about 1/4 mile from our house, so all we would see is the cloud of dust being raised and hear the horrendous noise the gravel trailers would make as the trucks flew over the washboard-like dirt road down there.    Seeing and hearing that, it was certain what was coming!  We’d scurry into our fort across the street (which was nothing more than a small grove of bushes on the top of a small hillside) or up into a tree we climbed at the end of our driveway.  Or sometimes we just ran for all we were worth out into our big side yard and would dive behind one of any number of big pine trees that were out there.  We’d flatten ourselves against the ground, our surroundings becoming our camouflage–or becoming as one with the branches of the tree we were in–seemingly invisible to the huge metal monster that was bearing down upon us.

If we felt particularly daring and audacious , we’d wait at the end of the driveway until we saw the front of the truck appear at the top of the hill as it came hurtling and banging towards us.   Then, pumped with adrenaline and about ready to poop our pants,  we’d run to our hiding place before the semi would pass our property.  And always–always–we would be left in a huge dust cloud that descended upon everything around us.  (If the wind was just right, my Mom would find layers of dust in the house, no matter how much she cleaned.)  Coughing and squinting through the dust, we’d look triumphantly down the road, confident that the evil truck driver had not seen the boys that were so strategically hidden around him as he passed by.  With our ninja-like senses and reflexes heightened, we would wait for the return of the metal monster known as The Gravel Truck.  Those were the days!