Old Dance Hall

March 20, 2020

Grandma had one rule when I'd go out to play and that was I better come home when she called me.  In those days, you'd hear children's names yelled and that was the signal to that child to return home.

The hills opposite their house were a good sounding board.  Rising above the roof tops I could sometimes even see Grandma on the front porch.  And, there were times I'd hear someone yell a name and I'd return home anyway asking, "Did you call me?"

If the answer was negative I'd respond, "Oh," and then run back outside to play.

Many of the kids in Grandma's neighborhood weren't given the freedom I had.  When they'd get called in for lunch or nap time, I'd head to places forbidden to them.

One day when hiking in the hills above Pocatello I found a huge concrete foundation.  Whatever was there must have been huge.  There were no roads leading to it.  It seemed like Mt. Olympus to me.  I could see the hospital, Pocatello High School, downtown, the river and many other landmarks.  And, across the valley I could see the hills on the east side where the university was.  It was where I felt like I was on top of the world, and for a kid my age, I was.

When I first discovered it, I told no one.  I didn't tell my friends because I didn't want them coming up there and ruining it for me.  I didn't tell Grandma because I really wasn't sure what it was or how to describe it.  I was just a little kid and at that time I didn't know what a foundation was.

One thing scared me about it:  It was deep.  It was a deep concrete box and if I fell in I knew I wouldn't be able to get out.  And, because I believed I was the only person who knew about it, if I got stuck, nobody would come to my rescue.  Because of this, I kept a safe distance admiring it's grandeur from several feet away.

I did wish I could find a way to climb down there.  People had thrown bottles down there and some of them had refund value.  (I'd collect bottles and take them to Del Monte's.  A beer bottle got a penny, a pop bottle 2 cents, and a quart pop bottle a nickle and 3 cents for a quart beer bottle.  Considering I could buy a box of Snaps (a licorice candy I liked) for 2 cents, bottles were a treasure.

One day I came home with a bottle.

"Where did you find that, Brent?" Grandma asked.

This was my chance to tell her about my exciting find.

"I found an ancient ruin in the hills," and I proceeded to describe it.

She smiled and said, "You hiked that far?  That's a long ways away.  What you found used to be a dance hall where your mom and her sisters would go to dances on the weekends.  They tore it down years ago.  What's up there now?"

I described my find.  I was relieved to know she wasn't mad.  She was more astonished that a little boy could hike that far and find his way home.

I later discovered I had a knack for finding my way around.  My parents could drive me somewhere and I could remember how to find it.

The old dance hall was my find. I never told any of the other children in the neighborhood about it.  I'd go up there and visually explore Pocatello.  It was my special place to go.

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