Posts Tagged ‘caskets’
Long before Harrison Ford set out on his swashbuckling adventures my lifelong buddy and neighbor, Gary DeBaise and I had a few of our own. The year was 1974. I was 12 and Gary about 14. We were very aware of our territory (Syracuse! I’m so aware of you!) to the extent that we perceived an opening, a portal to adventurous mischief that would eventually lead to an intriguing secret never revealed. Until now.
In the cold and snowy depths of yet another Syracuse winter there wasn’t a lot to do. So Gary and I sat on bar stools in his parents’ built-in basement lamenting our lot and playing 3-penny hockey. We discussed the usual topics and wondered what else we might do this drab Tuesday evening. We strategized and schemed to formulate some kind of meaningful activity to participate in. Nothing. Then we tried to formulate some kind of meaningless activity, but we were already doing that. I wouldn’t call it an Existential Quandary. I think you have to go to college first and have read A Catcher in the Rye to experience that level of alienation. Nah. Not us. We were just energized teenagers with a whole lotta nuthin’ to do. And as we ruminated, it slowly came to us:
Once upon a winter dreary, while we pondered, bored and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious talk to avoid this bore—
While we plotted, not besotted, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of something gently rapping, rapping at our inner core.
“‘Tis some visitor,” We muttered, tapping at our inner core—
Telling us thus and nothing more – Go to the warehouse in the Mucklands.
Our winter was no longer dreary, and soon we embarked to the Mucklands, cold yet cheery
I could continue to tell the story borrowing from Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven, but me thinks the foreshadowing with such a dark and gloomy poem has already set the tone. Let me more commonly describe the chain of events for that evening’s adventure. This cool and clear night Gary and I had nothing to do as we sat in his basement exhausting the topics of girls, SU football and school dramas. And since we dare not steal any more Canadian Club from his parents’ bar, the idea of penetrating the old warehouses down by the swamp seemed mighty captivating. Plus it gave us something to do besides talking about penetrating Allison Belge. Penetrating the old warehouses we’d actually get to do. So we decided to heed our Muse, brave the cold to go down to the Mucklands where these buildings were located. The Mucklands was a dying swamp with random patches of reed-filled ponds and various drainage ditches leading to lagoons of standing water. It was located adjacent to an old Erie Canal route that newly built Interstate 690 and the old New York Central Railroad paralleled. Within this muddy wonderland stood a few abandoned World War II plants that were protected by a perimeter fence and stood as monuments to the newly developing “Rust Belt.” As we’ll see “protected” might not be the most accurate word to describe this fence.
Gary and I prepared for this vital mission like Seal Team 6 – warm coat, small penlight and a common screwdriver. Alright more like Seal Team ¼. Under cover of darkness we departed base camp (his house) at 1930 hours (about 7:30) and, not wanting to draw any undue attention to ourselves (even though nobody was paying any attention to us at all) we proceeded along usual routes to our target. So over the Midler Ave Bridge across 690 and down the steep embankment near the frozen pond we marched, taking great care to circumnavigate the pond just in case our collective 190 lbs. might cause us to break through the ice thereby forcing us to abort the mission. By thinking in military terms we knew we were deluding ourselves, but it made the endeavor so much more fun and purposeful – this was now meaningful activity.