Friday, January 08, 2010

Loop 820 - 1963

It’s often difficult to relate to someone much younger how things in our childhood seemed so clean and new relative to what we see today. The picture was taken in October 1963, the month our eastside portion of Loop 820 opened for traffic. It shows the intersection of the Toll Road (I-30), opened in 1958, and Loop 820 when both of these sections were new—47-years ago now.

I recall the opening of the Toll Road and learning to drive on it roughly coincided with attaining my license at age 16 in 1961. Actually, I had been driving for several years before that, since about age 13, with my father riding shotgun. The traffic was so light then, even on the highways, that it was relatively safe to break in a youngster well in advance of his or her sixteenth. I would log some time behind the wheel driving my family out to the Howard Johnson’s on the Toll Road to get my mother her weekly fried clams fix…HoJo’s Wednesday special, if I recall correctly. I had a hamburger, couldn’t stand the fish.

Loop 820 was under construction during our high school years and opened just after we graduated and launched elsewhere to take on a larger world. So, I don’t have any recollections of using it except as a parts supply venue while it was under construction. About 1961, someone, Dillard I think, procured a 1934 Ford Flatbed truck in a trade with one of those local car traders who operated from the yard of an old house. I think he traded a broken Hupmobile and a 10ga. shotgun for it, if I recall correctly.

Getting that old truck in shape for licensing proved to be a challenge for some 15-16 year olds with neither money nor knowledge, and I think a light fixture or two was sourced from parked equipment up on Loop 820; that is, until the local roving guard rolled up. Anyway, no one ended up in jail and legal or not that old truck saw some limited service hauling a bunch of us around the neighborhoods on weekends. The old flatbed disappeared suddenly and I don’t recall the story of where it went. However, I don’t think anyone ever solved the problem of the missing muffler and the noise always summoned the local gendarme. Some of the likely perpetrators in this adventure were Means, Dillard, Tate, Cooper, Shields, Koebernick, McCoy, McCook, Scott, Larmer, Lange, and maybe a few others.

The 1963 picture of Loop 820 and I-30 clearly shows an overpass and an underpass. Brentwood Stair went under (1) and John T. White Rd. went over (2). The picture below is a current (2010) satellite view that shows the massive build up in the area over the past 47-years and marks the under/over passes. Note that the old picture shows little or no traffic on I-30, even though it was about 5-years old when the picture was taken. That is an example of what I have trouble relating to younger people about how things were…I think that route has been heavily congested for decades now.


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