FLASHBACK FRIDAY: 4/10/1947
Long after a casually tossed pebble has fractured the mirror-like stillness of a pond, the ripples continue; concentric circles, exploding outward from the epicenter of their genesis like a microcosm of the “Big Bang”, whose phantasmal existence scientific minds have postulated for decades. The waves continue—at times imperceptibly—bounding, rebounding and ricocheting off of anything of substance it meets; so, it seems, do our actions. Such was the nature of my thoughts as I trekked down Blakely Hill today.
Overhead, a crow laughed as I turned onto South Street. “Haw, haw, haw!” he guffawed, as if he had been privy to my thoughts and found them to be hilarious! I’ve read that crows, like all corvids, are very intelligent. They are said to be among the most intelligent of all animals, so perhaps he was correct in his assessment.
As I passed Mr. C. W. Webb’s old house, I spotted a date etched neatly into the concrete of the top step that accessed the overgrown front yard; a yard once neatly kept by Mr. Webb and his wife “Miss Manda”. They were an “odd couple”. Mr. Web was a short man and Miss Manda was a large, light-skinned woman. To my childhood self, they’d seemed the three-dimensional manifestation of the two-dimensional “Jack Sprat” and his wife from the “Mother Goose” rhyme. According to the rhyme, “Jack Sprat could eat no fat. His wife could eat no lean. And so between them both, you see, they licked the platter clean.”
The date on the top step was 4/10/1947. On that day—decades past—Mr. Webb had built these concrete steps. I imagine that—in 1947—concrete steps were rather a rare find on South Street. I can see Mr. Webb toiling tirelessly in the cool, spring morning air; his trowel scraping roughly against the tin bed of his old wheelbarrow as he scooped concrete mixture and slathered it onto his birthing creation.
Elsewhere, while Mr. Webb was busy constructing his concrete steps, Jack Roosevelt Robinson, or as he was famously known, “Jackie” Robinson—of Cairo, Georgia—became the first black baseball player to play in the previously segregated Major League; shattering the so-called “color barrier”; a barrier which had barred some of the greatest ball players of all time from its ranks; players like Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige.
In the Mojave Desert of California ripples, of a more terrifying kind than the ones from the phantasmal pond of my mental meanderings, were on the minds of scientists, when a 6.5 magnitude earthquake shook the earth beneath their feet. Luckily, no one was injured.
Meanwhile, back on South Street, Mr. Webb was putting the final touches on his steps as Miss Manda looked on. She brought him an ice-cold glass of lemonade. He drank deeply from the cool, tart, liquid as trickles of condensation ran down his arms where it mingled with his sweat. Then crouching down, with the glass in one hand, he picked up his trowel in the other and slowly inscribed into the wet cement of his new steps, “C. W. Webb, 4/10/1947”.