Monday, October 23, 2006

October 23, 2006: Monday Memory: Fire Engine Park, 1994

From August 1994-July 1999, we lived in Ames, Iowa. During those five years, Randy earned his PhD, I earned my master's degree, and Laurel was born. Jesse was not quite 18 months when we moved to Ames. Lots of other stuff happened, too, but those are the main events.

Iowa was always temporary for us. It was a necessary stepping stone to the next stage of our life. Iowa itself was far away from everything and everyone we'd ever known. The climate was hideous, and the endless fields of corn and beans mocked our desire for Tennessee's mountains. But we were happy in Ames. We had good friends and a great church and lived in the city that was ranked #2 nationwide in a list of "family friendly" cities (circa 1997).

One of the best qualities of Ames was its tremendous park system. There were 23 parks in a city with a population of 50,000. At least 4 parks were within walking or biking distance of our house. These were parks with two or three playgrounds each, plus swings, walking trails, etc. Most of the playgrounds were the fabulous wooden structures, shaped like pirate ships or castles. Probably our favorite park was one we called "Fire Engine Park." The centerpiece of this one was an old fire engine. I can't even imagine how many hours Jesse spent driving this old fire engine. It was here that we met the family that was to become one of our best friends in Iowa. I remember watching older kids jump off of the fire engine, thinking how impossible it seemed that one day Jesse would be old enough to do that (and before we moved, he was certainly old enough to do that). Around 1996, Iowa had a huge flood (not as big as the one in 1993 that got so much publicity), and the entire park was under water--including the fire engine. And so, without further adieu, I present scenes from Fire Engine Park (please be sure to notice Randy's awesome purple Chucks). Jesse is about 19 months old in these photos, taken in October 1994.

randy-fire eng

jesse swing

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