As I stopped to take this pic this morning, the workers standing on the boulevard might have briefly wondered what I was doing. What did I see? What was I looking at?
I stopped because I was once seven years old. And because I was once young enough to play with all that heavy equipment.
Our house at 6704 in the northeast end had a sandbox between the side of the garage and the fence next to the Ramseys. In the sandbox, there was one rule: no throwing sand. And, basically, two scenes or games we'd re-enact again and again. The first was digging for treasure. We'd bury beer and Happy Pop tops in the sand and try to dig out as many as possible with one scoop of a plastic shovel. That got boring after three or four straight hours.
What we never tired of was doing construction work.
With our Tonka toy graders and front end loaders and dump trucks (David across the lane supplied a Johnny West tractor trailer unit we imagined always full of explosive TNT) we dug sand, rearranged it in piles, built quarries, transported sand 10 feet this way, dumped it out, then hauled it back, graded it into roads, smoothed it out, inspecting our work, perfecting our technique, building a little city.
The tractor trailer was plastic, but the Tonkas were made of metal. The blades and the buckets moved. The tires left prints. The Tonkas could not be left outside under penalty of rust. They were heavy to carry.
All of this came back this morning when I saw the front end loader and the grader working on 142 St. Their blades and buckets seemed to dig down into a few layers of my own road, exposing the seven year old and his kingdom of sand.
It hasn't all drifted away, though. There isn't much left from my childhood. Actual artifacts, I mean. But I have never had the courage to part with those Tonkas. They're still up in the rafters of our garage, five decades or so after they started digging.
Today, they found me.