Sometimes, I like to look back at our microfilm archives here at The Crescent-News to see what was happening in and around Defiance decades ago. No matter what decade I pick, a good deal of the “problems of the day” seem rooted in essentially the same things.
I imagined some future person doing this too, and maybe coming across my column. I realized I owe it to this imagined future person to leave him or her with a crystal-clear depiction of what it was like living in Defiance in July 2019:
It’s hot out, there is — for the first time I’ve seen since moving here in 2011 — just about no corn anywhere, and area residents are out in droves driving giant circles around the city as we all wait with bated breath to see what happens next over at the Clinton Street Bridge hole. (The name seems...unceremonious, perhaps even a bit crude, but it’s efficient, which is more than we can say for the detours.)
Prior to the existence of the Clinton Street Bridge hole, I had no concept of the role this piece of infrastructure was playing in my life. Had I been asked, “Scale of one to 10, importance of this bridge to you?” I’d have given it a two. Turns out it was closer to an eight. If nothing else, this has taught me that I’m probably taking all sorts of things for granted. Certainly among them was the ability to visit my neighborhood mini-mart without a kayak.
While covering board, committee and council meetings, I’ve frequently heard local leaders say they’ve “been approached by community members” about (insert some problem here). I suspect that sometimes this means they’ve been approached by community members, and other times it means they’d like to distance themselves from the personal message they’re about to deliver.
What does this have to do with the Clinton Street Bridge hole and related detours?
Well, “I’ve been approached by community members” who feel the following message warrants the broadest promotion possible:
The entrance ramp should be used to reach the highway speed limit, or 65 mph on the particular stretch of U.S. 24 we are all traversing against our will to get toilet paper, go to work, or visit our parents. The ramp is designed to give us a moment to identify an appropriately sized gap in traffic, and safely, efficiently merge onto the highway. The safety and the efficiency go hand in hand. If ramp time is over and you’ve failed to break 40 mph, we are all in trouble. Doomed.
Listen, I know it’s counterintuitive to speed up, dive in, go faster, when faced with perceived danger. I also know you didn’t ask for this; none of us did. But we’re here now, together, on this ramp, and you’ve got to pick up the pace.
It hasn’t been all bad. On July 5, my family walked down to the bridge hole to watch the fireworks display. The view was oddly decent from Clinton and Fort streets, no driving required, and it was quiet. You had to sort of...use your imagination to fill in what the very bottom edge of the firework must have looked like, but that isn’t so hard...
One of the many things I’ve learned since moving to Defiance: If you find a good fireworks spot, keep it to yourself.
This one, though, I don’t have to worry about. Come next July, I expect there’ll be a bridge there, and once again, it’ll be a busy street corner, bustling with happy drivers whose knuckles have since regained their color — drivers who never asked to have to go 65 mph in the first place...