Monday, April 4, 2016

The Park

The Park

As a very young boy, I was fortunate to live immediately across the street for a park. It wasn't much of a park; mostly a field of weeds with a softball diamond in the middle and a small playground in the southeast corner. The playground consisted of swings, teeter-totter and a slide. A couple years later a surplus two-story military barracks was trucked in and assembled near the park entrance on Main street. It was termed a recreation center but other than being a place to register for youth recreation programs like little league, it was more a craft house for kids during the summer when school was out.

Pete Harmon was the most prominent patron. He wasn't one of the ball players who used the diamond in the evenings but organized and funded the special events like the bonfire on Halloween and fireworks on the 4th and 24th of July. Pete Harmon owned the restaurant on the corner of State and 39th South. It was called the "Do-Drop-Inn" and was a place to get a burger and fries, Coke or a cup of coffee. He was the same who teamed up with Col. Sanders and the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise.

Back to the park. About the time the barracks was moved in, the park was named Harmony Park and the county began mowing the weeds. I think the name Harmony was a tribute to the support Pete had provided. For me, it was a shortcut to the grocery store and a field to practice my golf drive. We practiced archery but my favorite pastime was watching the control-line model airplane pilots fly on the softball diamond. I would watch in a near-hypnotic trance and wish I could fly like they did.

There was a corner of the field that was vacant so the county began hauling in fill dirt and built up the ground level even with Main street. Next they built a fire station on the fill. The neighborhood kids played on the mounds of fill dirt before they leveled it out and built the fire station. Years later we learned that the fill dirt came from tailings from the Vitro Uranium processing. It ruined playing hide and seek at night because we glowed but seriously, they discussed closing the fire station to protect the health of the firemen but I don't know if they did or if they decided the radon didn't pose a significant problem.

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