Monday, September 16, 2013

Seeing the Past (again)

I don't normally rerun a post, but yesterday my girlfriend and I went fishing in Saint Louis County very near where this track was so we were a bit early and drove by the place that I first raced and flagged. The state of the property saddened me deeply as the weeds were at eye level and there is no sign that there was even a race track there except one telephone pole that served the score tower. It's a real shame that a place that gave so many people like myself a place to grow up at, is gone and lost. That being said I felt it right to share with you this blog from 2011. 

Last week I talked about reliving the past, but after what I discovered this week a person can do more than just that. Anyway, Google Earth added a new function that allows, if the photos are available, you to see what it looked like in the past.

The second I discovered this I went to a County Park in Saint Louis County. Widman park to be precise and this is the current shot:

This picture may seem obscure as I'm sure you are trying to look closely to see why this photo has any relevance. Try as you might what you are looking for, well, it isn't what's there but what's no longer there. Here's the next photo taken from 1992:

The track that is in the photo is the same track that my story in my book called, "The Best Day" takes place. I learned to race at that track and also that is where I first flagged a race. To me, that ground is sacred, but on the rare occasion that I drive by it today it is just an empty field with just the ghosts of summer Sundays in its memories.

I'm thankful the picture from 1992 shows all the cars and trailers there. The picture was taken on a race day and when I started racing I looked forward to each and every raceday. Of course, the Saint Louis Karting Association always was on flood watch and there would be times we would practice on Saturday and then the river would rise and Sunday races would be cancelled. Oh, such good times!

The history that can be seen on Google Earth is astounding. To be able to see what the track looks like now, and to see it back when it was the spot to be at, well, in my life at least, on the weekends. To be honest I had to hold back my emotions the first time I saw that because of all the wonderful memories I have there.

I must hold back though. This ability to see the past is a slippery slope because how much can I see? They say time heals all wounds but my memory is overly good and now I can add visible pictures to the mix?! It's almost like we are getting to a time, much like my memory, that every second of the past is now. How soon will it be that we will be able to see Google Earth photos from every day of the year?

In any case, the memories of my weekends growing up are preserved. The last time I drove by Widman County Park I could almost make out the turns of the track and you can too in the "now" photo I posted. I knew what I was looking for though; anyone else who drives by will just see a field. An empty field; no signs, no plaques, no indication of the people and competition those grounds once saw. It's a shame, a pity, and downright sad, but for those that remember it, it truly is more. I grew up there at that track, won my first race, flagged my first race, and lived my passion as a child. True, it is just a field now and, such as life, what is will always fade away, but in my memory it will always be like that photo in 1992.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, the past! Almost everyone views it through rose-colored glasses and it's almost never as idylic as we remember it being. But your observation about the future of Google Maps and being able to see a visual of any day in the past intrigues me. I know that I for one would definitely do it, but I also know that an actual visual of certain days probably wouldn't live up to my memories of it.

    I get the same feeling when I see how we "experience" events in our lives these days. How many people actually "see" what's going on around them? Usually we experience things around us through the lens of a video camera or our cell phones. How many times do we actually watch what's going on with our own eyes? Sometimes I tell myself to put the cameral or phone down and just experience the moment and relive it through my memory, rather than catching it on film (or video, I know, I'm old!) As Bob Dylan once sang, Times, They Are A-Changin'! Sometimes Memory Lane is better remembered than relived.