Saturday, October 01, 2005

Echoes of the past...

Yesterday, I was watching TV, and a commercial came on. Don't remember for what, and it doesn't matter. There was one part that had meaning, though. In it, a child is walking on a football field, and looking up into the stands, hearing the cheers of fans long gone and the crunch of pads long hung up and forgotten.

Thinking about it, I know what they meant. Sure, it was just an ad, just something to hook the viewer, but at a deeper level, I know what they meant. I have seen it.

Camp Miakonda, established 1917, in constant use every summer since. The echo here is one of peace and laughter, one of the happiness of green-clad Scouts wandering. From the brown and green of the 1920s, growing and shifting into the olive of the 1950s, to the khaki and green of today, that is the sound of this place. It's the sound of snapped blades in Scout knives, of burned dinners over wood fires, of snowball fights and German Spotlight, of the pure laughter of a summer's day and the pure shock of flipping a canoe in the lake.

UT's Glass Bowl football stadium, built 1933 through the generosity of the WPA. The sound here? The roar of the crowd and the crunching of pads. Soft leather in the early days, growing sharper and harder as the players get stronger and the pads get tougher. Coaches carried off the field as champions, and players carried off with shattered bones and dreams, those are here. It's of winning streaks and solid beatings, of fifty-point blowouts and last-second saves. The hot dogs still sizzle on the grills, the peanut slingers still hawk their wares, those are the sounds that endure here.

Riverview Cemetery, established early 1840s (nobody knows for sure). The sound here? Mixed. Tears, sure. There are many dead that lie here. But, there are also the quiet intonations of Masonic burials in many languages, of quiet rituals and soft words. There still echoes the low whistle of the barges on the river below, the mechanistic thunk-thunk-thunk of the hammers in the forges at the steel mill, and the quiet, respectful chatter of squirrels and birds in the trees. Even superceding the sadness, that quiet respect and affirmation of life is the sound I hear most.

A friend once told me that she could see flashes of the world the way things used to be. Forests where there are now only streets, valleys and hills now covered with concrete. I understood her then, as well. I tried then to explain what I can see, those flashes of the world gone by. Maybe, just maybe, this will do the trick.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do the ROTC guys still repel down the sides of the football stadium at UT on saturdats?

10/03/2005 8:41 AM  
Blogger Tirithien said...

Yep. Have for many years, and will always do so, so long as the Rocket Battalion lives.

10/03/2005 1:56 PM  
Blogger Tirithien said...

Did you happen to go to UT, fella? Not many non-UTers know that fact.

10/03/2005 1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, but I did sneak into Park Tower a bunch of times when I dates some girls that stayed there.

10/03/2005 4:53 PM  
Blogger Tirithien said...

*laughs heartily* Just stay away from Parks 12...

10/03/2005 6:04 PM  
Blogger clew said...

The smell of OFF always takes me immediately back to girl scout camp ... :)

10/03/2005 9:21 PM  
Blogger Tirithien said...

I used OFF by the gallon at Scout camp, and I'm fine... fine... fine... fine....

10/03/2005 10:26 PM  
Blogger Bainwen Gilrana said...

Oooh, I have a lot of olfactory memory triggers. For example, there's a particular scent of lotion which automatically reminds me of my freshman year of college. The smell of a butane lighter reminds me of my grandpa. Sandalwood reminds me always of one of my high school friends and our long late-night discussions of philosophy and mysticism.

The strongest one of all, though, is the smell of the sea. I lived in Florida until I was 14, just 10 minutes away from the Gulf of Mexico, before being moved to this land of frozen tundra. Every so often the breeze off of Lake Erie on a warm day will smell *almost* like the sea-- not quite, but very, very close, and it always reminds me of that salt wind that would whip around me while I waded barefoot in the warm green waters of home.

10/03/2005 10:36 PM  
Blogger clew said...

Memories jarred by olfactory triggers are said to be the most quick and vivid recollections.

I agree completely!

10/04/2005 7:30 AM  
Blogger naive-no-more said...

You've given me an idea for my own blog. Thanks. ;)

10/04/2005 3:57 PM  
Blogger Tirithien said...

Use and enjoy. :-)

10/04/2005 10:05 PM  
Blogger Bougie Black Boy said...

You've given us all ideas for our blogs!

10/05/2005 12:59 PM  

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