Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My River - Part #1

Cass City has always been my HOME. I may have lived elsewhere, but it was never home. Many things make this small town my home, the river is one of the main ones.

I had a friend whose big brother had a drum set in the basement of their house. He taught me how to play them by ear, playing along with records or the radio. This song was the last song I ever played on a drum set. I used to get lost in this song because it was the same way I felt about the Cass River. I got a little over exuberant and the neighbors complained about the noise.


Yellow River by CHRISTIE.
So long boy you can take my place, got my papers I've got my pay
So pack my bags and I'll be on my way to yellow river
Put my guns down the war is won
Fill my glass high the time has come
I'm going back to the place that I love yellow river.
Yellow river yellow river is in my mind and in my eyes
Yellow river yellow river is in my blood it's the place I love
Got no time for explanation got no time to lose
Tomorrow night you'll find me Sleeping underneath the moon
at yellow river.
Cannon fire lingers in my mind I'm so glad that I'm still alive
And I've been gone for such a long time from yellow river
I remember the nights were cool I can still see the water pool
And I remember the girl that I knew from yellow river.
Yellow river yellow river is in my mind and in my eyes
Yellow river yellow river is in my blood it's the place I love
Got no time for explanation got no time to lose
Tomorrow night you'll find me Sleeping underneath the moon
at yellow river.
Yellow river yellow river is in my mind and in my eyes
Yellow river yellow river is in my blood it's the place I love

If you have never heard this song search for it on the internet and give it a listen.

Cemetery Road Bridge Across the Cass River


I don't know when this photo was taken (pre-1963 & during a summer drought), but at the time I remember it, it looked pretty much the same. Cemetery Road was still a dirt road that ran south out of Cass City. It ran through some really low ground before you got to the bridge and in the spring it was a muddy rut filled mess.
I spent many hours fishing off this bridge with my dad's old fishing pole with an old bait casting reel with the heavy black Dacron fishing line, old nuts and bolts for sinkers, and rusty old hooks, some big enough to catch Moby Dick.


This bridge was torn down shortly after I discovered fishing on the Cass. At that time nobody else fished it and many local people didn't even believe there were fish in it.

But there were. Northern Pike, Chain Pickerel, Large and Smallmouth Bass, Sunfish, Bullheads, Carp, White Suckers, Red Horse Suckers, and my personal favorite Rock Bass. There was also a good population of Bullfrogs, Leopard, Woodland, and those tiny little Spring Peeper Frogs. Plenty of Toads, Snapping and Painted Turtles, and even Mudpuppies. With Gardener, Corn, Grass,and Redbelly Snakes along the banks. Quietness paid off and White Tail Deer, Raccoon, Opossum, Red and Fox Squirrels, Ducks, Geese, and assorted waterfowl could be seen. A real boy's paradise.

Then it was decided by the powers that be, to pave Cemetery Road and to install a new bridge.

I watched the demolition of that old beam and girder bridge with great sadness. Not only was I loosing my favorite fishing spot for the summer, but a friend too. Yes, I said friend. How can a red lead covered piece of steel be a friend you ask? Well I spent many long days fishing off that bridge. Listening to the wind whistling though the girders. The sounds and shaking as vehicles crossed it. Fantasizing about the monster fish hiding in it's shadows. Yes for a young imaginative boy, it's possible.

They cut it's roadbed into 3 pieces, they cut notches out of the spanning I-beans, removed the crossbeams, and tried to shake it down with a crane. It withstood it all, and I cheered for the bridge. Then they attached a huge wrecking ball to the crane and dropped it repeatedly on the cut sections. The bridge shook it all off and I cheered some more. Finally they drove the crane out to the middle of the bridge and used the wrecking ball some more. It was more than my poor old friend could take and it slowly and painfully screaming lowered itself to the riverbed it had shadowed for so long. I turned around and cried most of the 1/2 mile walk back home.

It was replaced with this bridge. Nowhere near as pretty and lacking any character. This photo was taken on the west side of the bridge close to where the old photo was taken. Trees, growth and NO TRESPASSING signs prevented me from getting a shot from the original position.




A view from the present bridge looking east to where the north and south branches of the Cass River meet.

A closer view from the bridge of the meeting spot. That red pole barn sits on the north bank of the south branch. You will see more of it in Part #2.
This view is looking west from the bridge.
And finally a view from the south end of the bridge looking towards town. Before they paved the road, they built the roadbed up 4 to 5 feet, double that at the approach.

4 comments:

farm mom said...

Great pics of the river dad. I remember that song, I remember you telling me about it, and helping me figure out the words back when we lived in Caro.

Tootie said...

Just happened across a comment you left on another blog. :-)

That is a very interesting story.

Jennifer said...

I too live in a small town with a river, The Tombigbee River. It's really true about no place like home.

Love reading your posts,
Jennifer
http://thoughtsfromthefrontporch.blogspot.com

GreyWolf said...

Tootie: Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Stop back often.

Jennifer: Awww, thank you too! Us small townsfolk have to stick together. Welcome and come on back and sit a spell.