Reliving childhood on the train tracks

    When we were kids in south Denver, we’d put our ears to the railway tracks so we could hear the tune.

    Even from a long distance, if a train was coming, we'd hear the magical hum of the huge iron horse.

    Our parents warned us not to play on the railway tracks, which made it all the more reason. We loved it. We didn’t want the manicured playground structures. We had the train tracks that came from infinity and left to infinity right below our sneakered feet.

    What could be better than the challenge of how far one could walk on the rail without falling off? It was even more challenging at a quicker pace. Bruises, scraps, minor cuts and teasing laughs were our medals.

    We’d find pieces of old metal and try to figure out what they were, our first efforts in deductive reasoning. We never found a human body as the boys did in the movie “Stand By Me.” But we did find the bodies of cats, dogs and skunks. We quickly learned to respect, at a distance, skunks dead or alive, their smell living long after.

    The creative side at the railway tracks was coin manufacturing — or coin reconfiguration. We’d place a quarter on the track, center a penny over the quarter and place two BBs on the penny. Hurrah! A new Roman coin, wherever Rome was.

    Nowadays we take two different walking short cuts from our home to downtown Ashland over three sets of railroad tracks that see two trains a day. Oldtimers said there used to be 20 trains a day.

    I recently placed a penny over a quarter and a small ball bearing upon one of the tracks beyond where anyone would likely cross.

    The next morning I anxiously sought my new coin creation. After some time searching, I found it, but it was a mess, a complete failure. Evidently it wasn’t centered well enough and was flattened, but at an angle. Well, if I could do it at 9 years of age, I should be able to do it again in seniorhood.

    The next day I placed three coins along the track. By the way, it might be a crime to alter or destroy U.S. tender. The risk is worth it. Nonetheless please don’t forward this to the U.S. Treasury.

    As the old Italian saying goes, "He who doesn’t try, doesn’t fail." The second effort was successful.

    By the way, remember to test the track with your ear to make sure your coin reconfiguring hasn’t made you careless to the bigger issue.

    — Andy Anderson lives in Ashland.

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