I think it might have been Speed Harris. His mother would have killed me if she’d known, but I think he survived pretty much unscathed since he somehow landed on me and eventually became a lawyer, so she never found out. Good thing, too; she was mad enough at me when I finally succeeded in making gunpowder in her basement.
This was all brought back to me by the primally evocative photo you posted earlier, Mick, of the Normanskill Bridge, not the big new upper one, but the old original lower one, that passers-through never saw but that we local kids knew like the yards that had apple trees. (And more tales we have yet to tell, in these hallowed chronicles, of all that transpired down there along the river…[cue theremin])
Our favorite road down to the river, the Yellow Brick Road that went down on the right, we took because it made such a great motor noise against our bike tires. But it was long and curvy and slow. When we weren’t just meandering and wanted to get down to the river urgently – to fish or something – we’d use the old road, that went straight down to the left, and was pretty much unmaintained.
I guess Speed and I must have been in a hurry to get down to the river; that was probably about the time I’d discovered rock crystals in the shale cliffs on the north bank: that was like finding diamonds in the rough, and time was a wastin’!
Anyway, there we were on my bike, Speed on the crossbar, streaking down that steep-grade hill at top speed when my purple jacket, which I’d lain across the front fender to protect it from Speed sitting on it, suddenly caught in the spokes and Speed and I were early astronauts, together leaving vapor trails as we continued down the hill toward re-entry, landing and coming to rest at last in a tangle of arms and legs amid the rough gravel and chunky potholes.
It was a painful experience for me, especially for my right forearm; but from here, now that I know I survived, I’m glad it happened. If it hadn’t, I’d never have remembered that day. Thanks for the bridge, Mick.