Whenever I go back to visit my parents in my hometown I always look back at how things were. I am always amazed at how things change and how quickly the area is growing. I grew up in Erda what was a small farming community outside Tooele.
The first thing I notice as I travel home is the small road that led off I-80 is no longer a one lane small road. It was expanded into a highway, to help carry the traffic to and from salt lake. If you drive this during the evening commute I-80 is often backed up for miles with people trying to get home. As I drive down this new highway I look over into new subdivisions. Homes are sitting on top of open fields where as kids and scouts we used to go shooting jackrabbits in the fields, and carp in the shallow ponds that lay there. These new homes sit on top of what used to be the best shooting spot around. A family friend who owned the land did not like all the rabbits or fish. Often as scouts we would have an activity hunting them down. We used to bring shotguns .22 caliber rifles and line up along the ponds waiting for a fish to swim along unexpectedly. Then we would open fire and splashes of water would fly up as our bullets penetrated the water getting our kill. New homes now sit here. The people living in them not realizing that kids once loved this same spot too.
This small farming town where I grew up is now a growing area where the upper middle class of salt lake live. Where once was open fields, is now home after home of five acre ranches. As a kid I used to be able to walk across the street and into an open field. We used to take our bicycles out there and ride them in a wash that was created back in the early 80’s when there was a flood. These washes were around 20 feet deep and all the kids around would go there to jump their bicycles, motorcycles or four wheelers. What fun times we had making a racetrack in the bottom to race our friends. As we got older we still used the wash, but our toys got bigger. After we got our drivers license we took my friends truck out there and jumped it. My neighbor’s old land rover would often be seen out there as well. Now as I look back towards where the wash once was there is a home. The wash, was filled in years ago to make room for more of the Salt Lake population.
As a child I remember working on my friends, grandfather’s alfalfa farm that was a mile or two from my house. I used to go out in the mornings, during the summer and move the sprinkler pipes, each was 30 feet long. Often times we would have to move the pipe across the field and we would load them onto a trailer behind the old tractor. This tractor was always seen sitting on the edge of the field close to the house. It was always there. Now as I go by the fields are overgrown and the tractor has since been sold, the old farm tractor where I learned to first drive. Along with this tractor there was an old work truck that had a cattle gate in the bed of it. My friends’ grandpa used to let us drive it around our small town from one field to the next, well before we were the age to drive. I remember when we first stared to drive it we were small enough we would have to scoot to the edge of the seat and stretch to reach the clutch. This old truck we used to love to drive and play around in the fields with was always seen sitting next to the tractor, it to has now disappeared. Police officers are often seen within our small town now days and would be sure to stop any kids seen doing this today.
The High School where I attended has been torn down. Gone are the halls were I used to stop and talk with friends. Gone is the shop where I spent so much of my time during High School. Now in its place stands a new High School bigger and with new computers to help educate the rising generation.
As I went home over Christmas My neighbor’s house stood a darkened emptied shell from it burning down in November. This house was one my dad and I helped build a big extension on. I remember working hammering away to form the walls and raising the rafters to form the roof. Now all there is to show for my work is a burnt out building soon to be torn down to make their new home.
I will always remember when the Army Depot was closed and talks of how this would destroy the community. I had friends whose parents worked at the base. Now as I drive by the base it is mainly unused with just a few companies using some of the old buildings. This base closure has led to one of the most profound changes to the community, not by the lack of jobs, but by the requirement to remove all of the chemicals stored in bunkers out there. This site contained almost half of the US stockpile of chemical weapons, which include Sarin,VX, and Mustard Gas. The Government thought the best solution would be to build an Incinerator to burn all of the old agents stored there. Along with this they had to build a mass warning system throughout the valley that would warn residents incase there is a chemical emergency. These sirens seen standing above most buildings, and standing alone in open fields, are a constant reminder of the danger that looms outside town. These sirens are also used for other emergencies such as fires. They are tested weakly. Their loud woop woop sound breaks through the silence and annoys anyone who is trying to relax.
Another profound change is the recently constructed Millers Sports Park, this racetrack lies only about five miles from my parents house. As you go outside during the summer to relax on the lawn or to ride the horses you can hear the high shrill of the race cars speeding along the track at almost 200 mph. This noise starts Early in the morning and often runs into the dark. The days of relaxing outside in the quiet on a warm summer day are gone.
This town where I grew up is the place I remember the joys of my childhood. The fun I had as a kid. Where I made my first friends and learned how to socialize. It’s fun to look back and remember the good times I had. Now as I am a father I want my boy to be able to have some of the same experiences that I had.