Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I Was There

Click on photos for full size image.
By the time you get a few years under your belt some of the places and events that were a part of your life arrive at that mysterious point where they become history. In some cases they become downright iconic. It can be impressive to be able to say, "I was there."

When I was a kid in the Fifties I knew an old lady who had come to Idaho in a covered wagon over the Oregon Trail. It impressed the hell out of me that she could say, "I was there."

Some in my generation may recognize this iconic bridge. It's the famous Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone National Park, circa 1956. The first bridge was built in 1902; this bridge, still in use, was built in 1937. As you can see, it was a popular fishing spot, because it was right in the middle of a major spawning area for cutthroat trout. When it was discovered that the trout population had declined, the bridge was closed to fishing. But that didn't happen until 1973.

Well, it's not Nam or Woodstock, but the Fishing Bridge has become an icon of western trout fishing, and I'm proud to say, "I was there." It was in the Fifties, and it might even have been in 1956, when this photo was taken. I was seven that year. I remember the crowds, I remember looking down into the clear water, but I have to say I don't remember catching any of those cutthroats. I may have been too busy nervously looking over my shoulder for roving wild bears, another feature of the park in those days.

So I was there, but the truth is that when I was seven in Yellowstone I didn't go to sleep thinking about cutthroat trout swirling in pellucid depths. I lay wide awake hoping I wouldn't end up there:

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