Our fire tower


Treasured Forests is a great little magazine. I look forward to it. It talks about champion trees and taking care of your property and things like that.  I keep up with that because I have two trees right in my yard that are surely in the championship class.
This latest issue has a piece about fire towers; you know, towers from which somebody can spot smoke in a forest.
The building of the fire tower two miles north of Homtown was as big an event as the building of the county lake. In both cases, we’d check every day or two to  see how many feet the  water level, or upward feet in this case, had climbed.
There was a miracle involved with the fire tower: the fact that , as far as I know, nobody was killed or injured by falling off it.
As best as I remember, there was never a fence around it. No “Keep Off” signs, no “Danger signs.” After the  construction crew left, anybody could go to the tower and climb as far as the building went, even though the steps at the top would be just loose planks, not bolted down, no hand rails,  no nothing.
For some reason, the site of the tower became the premier parking place for young lovers in the whole county. You almost had to get a reservation. .. And it was a place to, well, think and meditate.  I remember one night in particular. First cousins/best friends James and Ross and I  had taken our dates home…if we had had dates. We might have just been to the midnight show or the pool room. Anyway, we weren’t ready to go home yet.
We climbed up as far as the tower went by then and did some talking about all sorts of things, including girls.  The night was very dark, but we could see a faint horizon line on the far side of Yellow Creek Valley. We idly wondered , exactly where were those trees? Close to Morton’s Chapel?  We might ride over there sometime, we said, and just see .
Dark, cool, up above it all, maybe wondering what would we be doing next year?
Treasured Forests says there were 200 fire towers in the state. Now, there are just 100. “Our” tower is one of the missing. Didn’t they know it was an icon for a whole generation?
I don’t know if  anybody ever spotted a fire from it, but it should have been left as a monument to…youth, maybe, with perhaps a wall with the signatures of all those who fell in love or at least did a little smoochin’ there. I suppose it  kind of took the place of a drive-in movie, which we didn’t have at the time.
In my senior year in high school, I took an elective, art. Kathleen Young, you know, Lawyer Young’’s daughter, Paul’s sister, taught it. It was a “crip” course, of course, but it was fun. We’d go outside and draw things,  learning about perspective  and such.
One day, she asked us to draw whatever came to mind when the word “love” was  mentioned.
I immediately dashed off a poor but recognizable drawing of our Fire Tower.
Bob Sanders is a veteran local radio personality, columnist, author and raconteur of note. He can be reached at bobbypsanders@gmail.com.


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