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Sunday, after the ride, I was coming back through Central Topeka. It isn’t a very nice area of town. Run down would be a nice description. It was hot. I was riding back to my house along the same route I used to ride back from high school. Back then, the area was very nice. I’m not sure how an area gradually goes into disrepair and becomes undesirable, but it seems to take years and years. Along with the undesirability comes the crime, which makes it that much more undesirable. The old majestic houses nearly become valueless.

I was just taking my time, looking around and the route took me by an area called Central Park. I guess the reason for this is that there is a park here and it is in Central Topeka. When I rode to high school, the road had trolley tracks in it, but they’ve put asphalt over those. Central Park has a small pond in it. I used to ice skate on it when I was young. Sometime awhile ago, they put up a huge chain link fence around the pond because a kid fell through the ice and nearly drown one winter. That ugly fence stayed for years and years, but someone came to their senses and took it down a couple years back.

I was amazed how many people were out and about in Central Topeka, especially the park. When it gets hot, it seems like there are so many people out on their porches and in their yards, trying to stay cool. Exactly opposite from the rest of the city. In my neighborhood, no one is out and no one is sitting on their porches. They are inside, in the air conditioning, watching TV or whatever. Makes you wonder who has a more colorful life?

Anyway, when I was riding past the pond, there was this old guy fishing. He had driven his riding mower over to the pond with a trailer. He had three fishing lines in the ponds. He had music, through a inverter and a car battery. A grill and cooler. I thought I’d take a picture of him. He saw me and asked me if I liked his setup. I said for sure. He told me to come over and check it out. Next thing I knew I was eating a rib he grilled and drinking a Schlitz Malt Liquor. I wasn’t that into either one at the time, but am so glad that I didn’t want to be impolite and turn him down. Both were great. Especially in the heat.

The guy was really interesting. He told me that he just lived a couple blocks down the road and was having a big party at his house on Father’s Day, June 19th, and invited me to come on by and have some fine barbecue and grilled fish.

As I rode the 2 miles home, through the transition from the poor, dilapidated Central Topeka, to the sculpted lawns and sterile area, I felt sad that so many people don’t remember what it was like to doing normal things like this guy did on a daily basis. Walk to the grocery store, go down to the pond in the park to fish, talk to complete strangers and invite them to parties. This is just the way that guy operated. It’s the way that everyone used to operate, before garage door openers, 300 TV channels and the internet. I think we could all use a little less comfort and a little more neighborliness.

My original view.

Cooler lid with ribs.

Father's Day party location.

Did you go to Google today and see interactive doodle thing. You can play the strings. And record your song is you want. Pretty cool.

16 thoughts on “Neighborhoods

  1. Judy

    I agree!! I think our new Mnt. neighborhood in Kittredge is going to be like this. For starters no one has AC up there! can’t wait to send more time outside again. Oh and by the way you’re invited anytime! Probably be there by mid July.

  2. trey

    Thanks Steve. For some reason, I found this blog entry very touching. Pining for yesteryear I guess.

  3. Dave Johnson

    I don’t know if it is because I am a magazine publisher or because I am an 80s cyclist that remembers you from the “Good Ole” days, but your blog is the only one I read every day and every day it is excellent. Thanks for taking the time to keep us updated and reminding us about the things that are important.

  4. Trudi und Sepp Karrer

    Steve you did so great, we are proud to call you and Trudi our friends, you feel like we do! Hope to see you once soon.
    Viele liebe Gruesse

  5. WildCat

    The Google thing is for Les Paul’s 96th birthday. A super fun way to waste some office time.

  6. Kim Carveth

    Awesome post…taking time and finding enjoyment in the simple things…splendid!

  7. Jim

    Great blog, nice real experiences, some not great. So it goes in life. Did Alexi pull his blog? His road bike got stolen in his last story and that was it. Any way come on up to Gunny if you need to cool off.

  8. Jim

    Hope you go to the get together on Father’s Day. Sounds like it could be a great time.

  9. poyntell

    I liked the fact I could continue the experience by playing my song on the “guitar” pretending I was hanging out in the park with everyone else. A little nuts what was so day to day to most of our generation’s summers is now a relic.

  10. jrem

    Congratulations Steve. I take 3 things from your article:

    1. First, everyone, I mean everyone, has a story;

    2. Secondly, everyone likes to share their story with someone else; and

    3. Lastly, it takes someone like you to simply stop and engage that person.

    Thanks for sharing. Jim

  11. redzinger2

    Steve–posts like these are what make this blog so fantastic (and probably the best in the cycling blogosphere). I was thinking recently–you should cull some of the best posts and turn it into a book. I think you’d find many interested and avid readers.

  12. bob

    my parents are from a small town in Iowa.Not that many years ago the common practice was one night a week people would go in to town to visit for the evening. Farmers and others would park their cars for blocks, then you would go from car to car, people would invite you into the car and you would just sit and talk and people watch. The City people would get the best spots around the town square because they would park the car there in the morning and then walk home and come back that evening.
    The stores used to stay open late (some until midnight) and did quite a business. The drugstore also sold alot of ice cream on these nights and it was a place for the teenagers to get away from their parents. Of course you couldnt get away with anything as the eyes of an entire town were watching everybody.
    This kind of social interaction had been practiced for generations, as people didnt always have radios or get the newspaper and some people could not read so well , so visiting was how u found out about the world.
    Its a shame that the bulk of interaction now days is no longer face to face…


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