life

The Sidewalk

There’s a large live oak tree out front. I’d say ancient, but I’ve seen pictures of our building from the fifties, and it’s not there. It’s older than me, and it’s taller than our three-story building, but it’s not ancient.

Each morning the sidewalk needs swept. Live oaks shed their leaves year-round. Another name for them could be always dying oaks. They shed leaves, and in the spring, they shed little yellow pollen powdered parts that look like caterpillars.  I don’t hate the leaves, but I do hate the pollen parts.

I like sweeping the sidewalk. There aren’t many things I feel that I do well, but I’m good at this. One glance when I’m finished, and I can see the sidewalk is swept.

Some people are more practical than I am. When they walk by, they suggest that I use a leaf blower, or at least a bigger broom. They don’t understand.

Sometimes I do use the leaf blower, but I don’t enjoy it. The gas-powered blower won’t start, and I say the worst of all words and then look around to make sure no one heard me. The electric blower works, but the extension cord hangs and tangles and makes me say bad things, but no one can hear because the blower is noisy.

The broom always works and never makes me angry. It does take longer, but it does more than clean the sidewalk.

There’s a historic theater next door. We share a sidewalk, and we also share live oak leaves. When I have time, I sweep in front of the theater, too. Sometimes there’s popcorn to sweep in front of the Majestic, but there hasn’t been lately. Just yellow dust from my tree.

I swept the sidewalk the morning my mother died and again the next morning. I’ve swept in the cold, and even in the rain. I love the way the old town square looks in the rain. The one-hundred-year-old courthouse and the brick streets and the old buildings. Sweeping connects me to all of that.

I’ve wondered who swept my sidewalk throughout the last one-hundred years. Who swept in front of the Princess Theater when the sign advertised the newest Charlie Chaplin film? Who swept in front of the Stanley Café during the Great Depression? Did someone clear their mind from the lynching behind our building in the twenties by sweeping the sidewalk the next morning?

Today I’m the man who sweeps our sidewalk. I wonder if I’ll still be sweeping it in forty years. If so, I’ll have lived a long life, but it will have gone by quickly. I’ll think back to this year and wonder where time went.

Although our tree isn’t ancient, I don’t remember who planted it, nor who swept the sidewalk then. And sometime soon, people won’t remember who swept the sidewalk today.

About Nowhere Tribune

A husband and daddy, striving to love his neighbors and be kind to his pets. I love good food, good beer, and a few good friends. My other interests are hiking, taking walks, lifting weights, reading books by manly authors like Hemingway and Twain, and splitting fire wood with my bare hands.

Discussion

23 thoughts on “The Sidewalk

  1. What a beautiful picture, the building, the tree, the large marque of the theatre, everything is just, as the theaters name says, majestic. Main Street USA right there. Can’t wait to visit, when all this mess is over. 😎😁

    Posted by thehuntress915 | April 14, 2020, 9:07 am
  2. What a marvelous and moving essay. The historic theater, your historic building (Constructed when, may I ask?) and that beautiful old oak. I find myself sharing the same type of musings as you. Oh and good for you in the abandonment of those pesky leaf blowers: one of the most obnoxious creations ever conceived by man.

    Posted by Roadtirement | April 14, 2020, 9:16 am
    • Thank you so much. I’m glad you can relate. Our building was built in 1918 and opened as the Princess theater and Stanley hotel and cafe. Construction on the theater next door began in 1919, and it opened in 1920. It soon put the Princess out of business.

      Posted by Nowhere Tribune | April 14, 2020, 9:29 am
      • Wow. I bet there are some stories about the ‘new’ theater going in right next to the Princess! Whenever we get to Eastland post virus, I’d love to get with you for a tour and history sharing. I want to know more about the hangin’.

        Posted by Roadtirement | April 14, 2020, 9:39 am
      • That would be fantastic. There is a lot of interesting history here.

        Posted by Nowhere Tribune | April 14, 2020, 9:44 am
  3. Lovely post. I can almost see you there…. sweeping under that magnificent tree.
    😊

    Posted by Rivergirl | April 14, 2020, 10:00 am
  4. I love this. Beautifully written!

    Posted by Hannah Louise | April 14, 2020, 11:43 am
  5. Sweeping is therapeutic, and it’s been going on for thousands of years. I don’t blame you for not using a leaf blower. I hate those noisy contraptions, and I wouldn’t use one either.

    Posted by Tippy Gnu | April 14, 2020, 1:37 pm
  6. Reminds me of Andy sweeping in front of the Court House on the Andy Griffith show. Can you sweep in black and white?

    The tree is a mixed blessing. It must produce some nice shade in the summer, but it blocks most of your building front. Live Oaks don’t do well in ice storms either. I wonder if the person who planted it knew how big it was likely to get.

    Posted by Jason Frels | April 14, 2020, 2:17 pm
  7. I can relate to your “sweeping” preference. After I mow the lawn, I sweep away the clippings that landed on the sidewalk, rather than haul out my electric blower and plug an extension cord into my lamppost outlet. My neighbors probably think I’m weird, but I think sweeping is less bother and doesn’t take any more time.

    Love the photo and the way you write. Take care.

    Posted by mistermuse | April 15, 2020, 11:06 am
  8. This is such a touching post. Did you send a ninja and some onions my way? 🙂 I hope you’re doing well and staying safe!

    Posted by Jay | April 20, 2020, 6:54 pm
  9. Loved this short story. I bet there are people who take comfort just watching you out there sweeping away. So simple yet very nice.

    Posted by Middle Aged Momma | May 2, 2020, 8:33 am

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