Guest Essay by Ken Hutchison
Dateline May 14, 2015: Random Memories
418 W. 6th Avenue, Pueblo, Colorado. 1969
I was probably around seven or so when Dad bought the property at the above listed address. On it sat an old dilapidated house. The paint was gone; elm trees grew out of the cracks in the foundation. I was dumbfounded by that as boy. It didn’t seem possible. Trees grew out of dirt, not concrete. Elms, I’ve discovered, grow out of anything. Even in Pueblo.
This was the location of the new Hutchison Pest Control. It was going to be a gleaming cinder block building with two garages and plenty of parking. Now, his old business was in the office of an abandoned grain elevator down across from the Pueblo Tent and Awning Company. Almost as ghetto as it can get. Just off the highway, small, dingy, and just down the street from some of the best steelworker bars known to mankind. But not a place where you went at night.
On this particular morning a group of us had assembled next to the house. The gigantic yellow backhoe was sitting on the vacant land next door, salivating hydraulic fluid as if it was hungry. The death of the dilapidated structure of wood was imminent. Dad came over with a brick. He got down on one knee to be at eye level with me. “Okay, son, this is your chance. You can break every window in this house and not get in trouble. Here you go…”, and the brick — this big heavy brick — was placed in my hands. It was rough, used, and had some left over mortar from its prior life.
I stepped up to the side of the house, placed my feet about five feet away from the house, and threw that sucker as hard as I could at the window.
Where it hit and fell to the ground with a thud that hung in the air like a pickled egg and beer fart.
Leaving the pane of glass in place.
The construction workers — or I guess destruction workers for lack of a more appropriate name — broke into laughter. I stared at the brick for a few seconds in disbelief. I didn’t understand. The brick hit the glass at a perfectly direct angle and the impact was distributed evenly. The tremendous throwing arm of a kindergartener didn’t help the cause at all. All of the big burly workers pointing and laughed.
I turned to my Dad, (who I’m sure had an internal laugh at my expense); the expression on my face must have been “help”. The old lower lip tremble pre-cry expression must have been on my face. He came over, put his hand on my shoulder, and said, “Let’s try that again, son. Throw it like this…”. And he tossed it.
My memory shows the brick flying in slow motion. Sort of like the super cliché scene in movies where the actor is walking away from the bad guys house when he flips his cigarette over his shoulder into the gasoline, never bothering to look back. (seriously, they never even flinch a little…right). The impact was, well, shattering.
Dad picked up another brick. This time it was a broken one. A “bantam-size” window breaker if you will. And I nailed that bitch right in the center. This time, baked clay won over fifty year old fused silica. That sucka was destroyed.
Dad and I proceeded to take care of all the windows before the Cat fired up his diesel engine and reduced the house to splinters in minutes. It was a bonding moment I’ve never forgotten.
A couple of years ago, I went by the old office. It’s empty. A faded “For Lease” sign in the window, phone number barely legible. I walked around the side, standing where I had stood some 45 years earlier. It was a lot smaller than I remember.
And then I saw this next door.
The sadness overwhelmed me. I couldn’t even photograph the old HPC storefront. What was once a gleaming clean proud new building was ghetto, just like his old one…
That was down near skid row.
Ken Hutchison © 2015
Thanks Ken. I ever-so-gently edited this -JG
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