NO PLACE FOR KIDS
August 10, 2014
I often go back to my hometown of Twin Falls, Idaho, to visit family. As I was writing my latest book, Evel Knievel Jumps the Snake River Canyon . . . and Other Stories Close to Home, I took to wandering a bit, revisiting some of the places I hung out as a kid. A couple of the stories are set in Twin Falls. I have wonderful memories of growing up in a small town. We could take off on our bikes with siblings or friends and, as long as we were home for dinner, our parents didn’t seem to worry. Sometimes our beautiful, faithful collie would tag along and I don’t remember being afraid that animal control, or dog catchers as we used to call them, would come after a family pet. Swimming at Harmon Park was an adventure with friends, no adults required, and I don’t recall lathering my body with sunscreen.
On one of these recent visits, my mission was to get some photos for the gallery on my newly designed website to go with my latest book. The title story is based on an event that took place during the summer of 1974, and I imagined Pick, my ten-year-old narrator, hanging out at some of my favorite spots.
The pool at Harmon Park is long gone, but I stopped at City Park to get some shots of the band shell, where concerts are still held every Thursday evening during the summer. We used to climb up on the stage, when it wasn’t occupied by the Twin Falls Municipal Band, and put on our own shows. I was disappointed to find that a chain link fence has been constructed to prevent anyone—kids?—for jumping up there and playing an air guitar, complete with animated vocals, or maybe an imaginary trombone along with a loud stomping march. The stage is constructed much like a large seashell and the sound just curves around and throws itself back out to the audience, which made it a lot of fun.
I then ventured over to the pile of lava rocks behind the band shell. It had been much, much bigger when I was a kid. We used to climb around on the rocks, playing pirates and outlaws and explorers. The lava rock was sharp and rough and, on occasion, blood was drawn. When it rained, the pockets in the rock would fill with water, creating hangouts for make-believe alligators and snakes.
Again I was disappointed. A warning sign was planted in the lava rock—KEEP OFF ROCKS AND OUT OF POOL, VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED. It made me a little sad to think a kid just wanting to play on some rocks could be labeled a “violator.”
I know times have changed. Now, parents worry about children getting hurt, or harmed by strangers. Cities fear lawsuits, something I doubt our parents considered back then. Yes, I know . . . sometimes I just long for the good ol’ days. If you do, too, I think you’ll enjoy the stories.
You made my heart lonely for the old Twin Falls. I remember riding down the grade to Shoshone Falls on my bike!! The trip back up was awful because who had gears in those days? Lots of memories when Robin (Roberts) & I go home, too. Thanks for yours.
-Leona Gough Robertts, September 3, 2014
Thank you, Leona. TF was a fun place to grow up. Lots of good memories!
-Kelly Jones, September 4, 2014
Kelly -- Really enjoyed the story set in Twin Falls in 74. I did 'flash back' to my earlier days there in the late 50's early 60's when I would have been Picks age.
The landmarks / locations you mentioned brought back so many memories of my youth and my childhood friends and what we use to do.
It is a shame that children will no longer know the freedom we had and now the restrictions place on them will in some ways keep them from growing up testing themselves and learning how not to fear becoming adults.
-James -- , April 22, 2015
Thank you for your comments,James. Hope to see you in TF next summer!
-Kelly Jones, April 22, 2015