Jerry's View: Paying the piper
No one likes to pay the piper but our state is in dire need of some rehab on our bridges and roads. I don’t mind paying to cross Lake Washington or even the Narrows Bridge to get back from Gig Harbor. With all the talk lately of tolls and Good-To-Go passes on area bridges it reminded me of an earlier time.
As a Portland boy born and bred I am familiar with the ancient steel bridge which connects Vancouver with my home town. As part of Highway 99 it was the only way to get to an occasional Sunday picnic alongside a rippling stream called Salmon Creek, about three miles from Vancouver. My dad had a battered 1918 Buick four-door, soft top sedan.
He and Mom sometimes took me and my nine-year old brother and little sister on Sunday picnics.
I don't know the year but one Sunday, as our dad ordered, my sister and I to hunker down on the floor in the back seat under a tattered blanket as we stopped at the Portland toll gate. Brother Russ was in the back seat with his legs and feet concealing our bodies.
Dad saved ten cents on each of us. It was a little lumpy looking I suspect but the toll guard waved us through.
Dad allowed us up out of the blanket when we were out of sight of the toll booth. Later, at church the next week, mom gave us each a dime to put in the collection plate. I think she did not approve of dad skipping out on the toll and figured it was okay to give God the money.
Traveling to Vancouver is not without excitement. Just as we got over the bridge the traffic had stopped.There was a big milk truck parked on the shoulder and a gang of men were grabbing huge steel containers of milk and pouring it on the side of the road. Other men were trying to stop it and some fists were flying.
I remember being puzzled and sad, seeing all that milk wasted when we were lucky to even have some to put on our oatmeal mush.
Fast forward... Many years later our number one son married one of the daughters of a family that lived on a small farm right next to that picnic spot we enjoyed. They spent many days hunting crawdads on Salmon Creek just as I and my brother had.
The bridge over the Columbia now carries thousands and plans are being studied for widening it to six lanes, all demanding tolls.
I suspect there will be some little kids under blankets.