There’s a scene in Annie Hall where Alvy, the Woody Allen character, is shown growing up in a house located underneath a roller coaster. Literally underneath it. In a flashback sequence a man tries to eat soup, and the place shakes so bad as the cars roar past overhead, the spoon is completely empty by the time it reaches his mouth.
And I can almost relate, because I grew up only a few yards from the railroad tracks, where an earth-shaking, howling locomotive would go crashing through several times every day and night, followed by roughly a million coal cars.
Here’s a picture I grabbed off Google Maps, of the old Dunbar homestead. You can see how close the tracks were, to our… lives. And if you followed that street to the end of the block, there was a crossing. So the conductors were required to blast their impossibly loud horns — right outside my bedroom window. Yeah, it was great, especially at 3 am, or whatever.
But it’s also weird. You quickly adapt, and don’t really notice it after a while. We moved there when I was in fifth grade, and during the first two or three weeks I’d sit bolt upright in bed every night, my heart hammering in my chest, believing the world was coming to an end. But within a month I was snoozing through the night again.
Whenever a friend would stay over, they’d almost always wake me up screaming: “Holy shit! What’s happening?! …Mommy!” And I’d sputter, completely confused, “Whut? What’s the matter?!” I couldn’t even hear the trains anymore.
Occasionally something would fall off a shelf and break, or a china cabinet would tip over on my brother, or whatever. But it wasn’t so bad. You learn to live with it, and I can’t remember it being a big deal, at all. Visitors would act like we were crazy, living so close to all that racket. But it was largely a non-issue to me.
In fact, it was kind of fun. We’d put pennies on the tracks, and go retrieve them later. I undoubtedly still have some of those smashed coins, boxed up somewhere. And for many years we threw snowballs at the caboose guy. I don’t know why, but we liked to abuse (aboose?) the caboose guy…. A few times we sent him scrambling for cover, and that made our day.
What was the most challenging place you’ve ever lived? To what nonsense were you required to adapt? Later in life I was forced to adjust to bums sleeping against my apartment door, in Atlanta, and too much junkie business right outside our home.
Do you have any stories to tell on that subject? If so, please use the comments link below.
And it doesn’t really have anything to do with today’s update, but if you look at that Google pic, and follow the railroad tracks all the way to the right edge, you can see the top of a white house. That’s where Steve lived. And now, thirty years later (give or take), we live near each other again in some random part of the country. What are the odds?
Finally, Brad sent me this link earlier in the week. Apparently there was almost a Marlboro-brand beer. Weird, huh? And I’d like to make that the alternate Question of the Day: what other well-known brands could be used to sell completely different products?
Clorox eye drops? Tampax tomato ketchup? Allow your imaginations to run wild in the comments section below.
And I’ll see you guys again tomorrow.
Have a great day!