Sunday, January 28, 2007

Simpler Days

Today I went for a walk along the canyon. It was such a beautiful day and the perfect time to just go and clear my mind for a while. As I walked, I began to reminisce about the Twin Falls I knew as a kid. It was such a small town back then. The College of Southern Idaho was way out on the edge of town, and Canyon Springs Inn and Randy Hansen Chevrolet were way out in the boondocks. Blue Lakes Boulevard was still lined with big beautiful old houses and people drove 25 mph in town. We had a little shopping center, but no malls yet. Williams Market was the best place to buy groceries in our neighborhood, and Safeway was the best place to buy groceries in a nearby neighborhood. Disturbing the peace or drunk and disorderly were big crimes, and people felt safe. So it was really big news that Evil Knievil was coming to town.

It was September 1974. People from all over the country started pouring into town. Hells Angels stalked the streets and gave us all a bit of a scare. Hippies in decked out vans could be seen any time of day or night. Shoshone Falls became the favorite hangout for all of the visitors. It was hard for us backward town folk not to feel a little put out and insulted by these “worldly” folk, some of whom laughed at us directly as we drove past them with gaping mouths. Talk about Culture Shock!

Well, the day came and Evil attempted his jump. We watched from one of the places only the locals would know about. There aren’t many secret places like that around here anymore, but we sure had them then. It had been such a huge build up that when it actually happened (and failed so badly), it was kind of a let down.

We were heading back into town, happy to be beating the crowds, when we saw a helicopter heading right toward Canyon Springs Inn! We turned into the huge parking lot and parked while the aircraft landed, eyes glued. People started piling out of the helicopter and sure enough, it was Evil. My little brother, 4 at the time, was such a huge fan of his. He had all the dolls and cycles and everything! He ran up to Mr. Knievil to get his autograph, only to be brushed off like some little pesky gnat.

I never like Evil after that.

They are planning to put a park at the old jump site. To this day that jump is still the biggest thing to hit Twin Falls. We’re much bigger now. Randy Hansen is lost in a maze of retailers, and the once luxurious Canyon Springs Inn sits in the middle of much more luxurious Inns. Murder is still shocking in this town, but crime is on the rise, and though Twin Falls is still a safe place to live, it surely has lost much of its innocence. The big beautiful homes that once lined Blue Lakes were torn down and replaced with fast food restaurants. We have a mall and several big department stores. The little grocery stores are all but gone and the edge of town seems to stretch farther out every day.

It’s not all bad. There is a beautiful walking path along the canyon rim these days, and sometimes I just like to walk along that path, clear my head and reminisce about simpler times.


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