No Fancy Name
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
a story from my childhood

bridge over the juniata river
bridge over the juniata river,
originally uploaded by jcmeloni
orig. photo by jane cannon mort
for the lewistown sentinel

This photo appeared in my hometown newspaper the other day, and it looked terribly familiar. I immediately e-mailed my parents and said "is that the pigtail bridge?" and found out that yes, indeed it was.

The pigtail bridge is also known as "the bridge that separates the town of Mifflin from Mifflintown". These are different towns...apparently early Pennsylvania settlers suffered from a lack of imagination. It gets better, because both of these towns are in Juniata County, and not Mifflin County, which is right next door, and you'd think that towns named Mifflin* would be in the county of Mifflin, but no, they're not.

When I was little (like 4 or 5), I would go to work with my Dad. My Dad was (he's not dead, just retired) a truck driver—a Master Paper Boy who happened to do all his work in a truck. He would get in his little truckie and drive 72 miles down to the paper plant, pick up his bundles and deliver them to stores and street corners (for the on-foot paper boys) along the way. Lots of driving. I went along, and to this day I have a mental picture of all the single stop-light towns along my Dad's route in south-central PA. It's not a marketable skill, but I have it. Not very helpful, 3000 miles away.

Every time we would go over this bridge, my Dad would tell me to hold on to my pigtails. As in "if you don't, they'll leap off your head and fly out the window, into the river below". I was dutifully terrified, and held on to the damn things the whole way across the bridge. I never said I was a bright child, but I sure did listen to my Dad!


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