Saturday, August 26, 2017

Shanty Town

One of the earliest memories I have to hold in my Whole Life is visiting a Shanty Town.  I think I was maybe late 5 or possibly early 6 years old and it was probably The Spring Of 1953.

My Dad knew everything about Everything where I was born and raised in Tippecanoe County Indiana.  My Dad survived several Nazi prison camps when he was shot down 2/21/44 over Germany.  He once had to grab small potatoes out of a pig's mouth to survive.

So, when he came back to Indiana and sired me, he took a close personal interest in my upbringing.  He was always taking me places to "show me" something.

One day, he decided to show me Shanty Town, such as it was, far outside Lafayette, Indiana.  It was a place implanted in a deep, deep forest where no road went. It was on a steep hill beside a railroad line.  It was where The Hobos Lived Large.

Here they could catch an uphill bound freight train by merely stepping aboard.  (Downhill not so much.)  Now this was where The Hobos traveled North toward Chicago and The Promised Land.

My Dad was savvy from all his Nazi Prison Camp experiences.  He had an innate ability to understand other human beings in dire straits.  He just "knew".

And so he held my tiny hand and led me through a convoluted hardwood forest trail, over hill and dale until we arrived at Shanty Town.

It is a Life Experience burned into my brain.  I will never forget it.  There was this huge village of shacks next to the railroad tracks.  Food was still cooking on the wood camp fire.  Half smoked cigarettes were carefully laid down in appropriate places.  Men's bindle sticks were carefully arranged outside their shanties.

Each shanty had it's own unique character  As my young child brain looked around in awe, I somehow memorized that place.  I can yet see it this evening as if it was yesterday.

When I went to the Habitat For Humanity Shanty Town today at Freeman Park, it brought back a huge flood of memories.

Indeed, Shanty Towns exist.  They are part and parcel of The American Human Experience.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Help educate and care for those who need us...just like ..the Earth..Air ..and Water.. just like we need them
Love one another and this Planet too.