Cumberland Times-News


June 15, 2014

It could have saved the county a lot of money

If people think it’s real, what else matters?

— Random thoughts sometimes occur to me when I least expect it, usually when my brain has become tired.

When I voice these thoughts at work or in other places, people may tell me, “Goldy? It’s time for you to go home.” Yes, ma’am.

Here are two random thoughts of recent vintage:

• If Bugs Bunny were an Emergency Medical Technician, would that make him a MedicHare?

• If Daisy Duck got a job driving for United Parcel Service, would she be an UPS-a-Daisy?

I wouldn’t blame you if you think that sounds Goofy — or Daffy.


Published reports have confirmed something I have long feared, or at least suspected might happen ... or maybe it just doesn’t surprise me.

The walking bridge behind Canal Place that allows people to take a shortcut across Wills Creek to Riverside Park, George Washington’s Headquarters and the gazebo has fallen upon hard times (“Deteriorating bridge, gazebo remain unaddressed eyesores; Public-use areas fall into disrepair in shadow of I-68 renovations,” May 9 Times-News, Page 1A).

Thanks to the efforts of some volunteers, the gazebo area has been cleaned up.

The bridge has not. It is festooned with rust and chipped paint.

If, as I do, you watch the TV shows on which people fix up old cars and trucks so they are fit to drive and sell them to other people for big bucks, you will have noticed an interesting phenomenon.

They don’t always sand the vehicle down to the bare metal and put primer and new paint on it. Sometimes, they merely wash off the dirt and grime, patch it up and clear-coat the whole body — rust, faded paint, warts and all.

Old pickup trucks are downright cool when they get this treatment, particularly when they also are blessed with 500-horsepower crate motors (they’re shipped to the buyer in crates), new transmissions and brakes, exotic wheels and modern suspensions.

I would not suggest clear-coating the Wills Creek footbridge and leaving the rusty spots and flaking paint in place. The aesthetics just wouldn’t be the same.

Time out for a history lesson (forgive me if you already know this; some people don’t): Wills Creek, Wills Mountain and a 1750-era settlement named Wills Town are named for an Indian chief named Will.

Chief Will and his followers lived on the mountain that bears his name and were friendly to the settlers.

About 40 years ago, my buddy, the late Gene Goodrich (a former reporter here) and I met with a state historian/archaeologist who showed us what was believed to be Chief Will’s grave.

Even if I could remember how to find it, I wouldn’t tell you where it is. Some things should be left in peace, undisturbed by sightseers and tourists, and this is one of them.

It was a typical eastern American Indian grave: A round hole that was dug just wide and deep enough to contain the folded-up body of the deceased. After the hole was filled in, a circle of rocks was placed around it.

The next time I saw one was decades later, when I went ghost-hunting for the first time at Gettysburg with then-Lt. Gary and Lt. Mark at Spangler’s Spring.

Billy Yank and Johnny Reb fought over the place during the day and called a truce at night to get water and trade tobacco and coffee.

Some of the most remarkable experiences we’ve had were at Spangler’s Spring.

I was walking alone through the middle of the field one night when I looked down and saw something that looked just like Chief Will’s final resting place. It wasn’t a fire pit or anything else but an eastern American Indian grave.

So I took note of it, figuring that the Indians had been there long before Billy and Johnny showed up, and walked respectfully around it.

For some reason I didn’t tell my buddies about it until the next day. They said they had never seen it, and I’ve looked for it but have not been able to find it again.

A few of the older Indians will tell you when you ask them about Sasquatch and other phenomena that, “Some things are not here all of the time.” By here, they mean here.

We should pay more to what such people say. Unlike us, they retain and honor their cultural knowledge and wisdom, which are more sound than most modern folks want to admit.

How long ago that footbridge was placed across Wills Creek, I can’t say. I do remember figuring out how many bridges go from one side of Wills Creek to the other within the city limits of Cumberland, and the number was surprisingly high.

Memory also serves me that the bridge cost $400,000 to build. This seemed to The Sage of Shriver Avenue and me an exorbitant amount of money to spend on something that would serve no other purpose than to give people at Canal Place a walking shortcut to George Washington’s Headquarters — which might not even be what people say it is.

I’ve heard from different sources that the original GWHQ was torn down and some of the lumber used to build a house on Frederick Street. When the house eventually was demolished, some of its wood was salvaged and used to build the GWHQ, which isn’t in its original location, anyway.

It had to be moved when the Wills Creek flood control project was constructed. That much is true. The rest of it, you can take with as big a grain of salt as you like.

Folks like to think of it as the real GWHQ, so nothing else really matters. It works, which means we should leave it alone.

The Sage and I proposed in my column that rather than spending $400,000 to build a bridge, the county could pay our buddies and him and me $40,000 to take care of the matter.

We meant to get a crane, some house jacks and a flatbed truck and use them to move the GWHQ from its place of exile on one side of Wills Creek to the other side, where it would sit conveniently next to the train station.

That would have saved the county $360,000, and there would have been no bridge to rust, collect dust or sit on the shelf.

On top of that ... when the bridge finally was assembled and installed, it came up several inches too short.

Do you think they’d listen to us? Of course not. Nobody ever does.

Sooner or later, they get what they deserve.

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