Small Town News


Marler's Musings by Dick Marler The Bridge

Island Park News of Island Park, Idaho

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Once upon a time there was a place where bad language wasn't allowed, and using bad words in fun, or in anger, was met with immediate and bad tasting consequences. This mystical land was in a faraway place called "My House." Pa tried to teach us boys that words were important, and sometimes they could be hurtful. He taught us that some words should never be used, even if they were listed in the dictionary. The bad language rule was never to be violated, even when I was playing war in the back yard, stubbed my toe going down the stairs barefoot, Or when a giant fish broke my line just before I pulled it up on the grass next to the river so I could remove the hook all my myself. Pa also taught us that like all rules, there were a certain occasions when the bad language rule could be avoided, and maybe even ignored.

One of these exceptions was when Ma used them. Raising Pa and five boys, she used them a lot. There were penalties though, even for her. Pa kept a jar marked with the words "Missionary Fund" in the kitchen next to the stove where she was required to deposit nickels, dimes, or dollars depending on the volume used in her expression, and the number of violations she committed at that particular time. Pa referred to the cash exchange as her "fire insurance" and claimed she could keep at least two missionaries in the field at the same time. The other exception was crossing the Del Rio Bridge on the Henry's Fork of the Snake River just north of St. Anthony.

The Del Rio was one of the final land marks I used to make sure we were on the right highway to Warm River. I had no way of knowing how long it had been there, only that it was Two huge shiny arches that stretched from one side of the river to the other. In a child's mind, it was fun to close my eyes when the bridge came into view and open them again when the car radio quit working, the signal being blocked by the steel in the bridge. I didn't know how that worked, but it did.

Some times we would leave Pocatello when it was still dark, and arrive at the bridge in time for breakfast. I know that there were at least two Restaurants near the bridge. One burned down before I can remember, and the other showed up on the other side of the highway shortly after. That's where we stopped for pancakes and eggs. That's also where the bad language rule didn't necessarily apply.

A little bit upstream from the bridge and the restaurant was a small diversion dam that moved water out of the river, and into a canal. The diversion wasn t all that important to me as a young child, but the sign in front of the restaurant was. The sign identified the name of the bridge and the restaurant at the same time. It also proclaimed that it was the "Best Little Restaurant by a Dam Sight." At the time my spelling wasn't any better than it is now, and I guess I assumed that in that case, it was okay to use one of the forbidden words without fear of the bar of soap.

The bridge is gone now. It's rather sad knowing that over 2864 years ago a bridge was built across the River Meles in modern Turkey that is still in use today, and still building memories. I don't know if there is a diversion near that bridge and I don't know if there is a small boy nearby that is violating the no bad language rule. But I bet there is.

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Original Publication Date: May 7, 2015

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