Friday, November 07, 2014

A York Avenue saga

The bravest souls during any election campaign --- without regard to party affiliation --- are those who go door to door. I didn't do that (a) because my job was data entry and (b) because I'm a big chicken. Or more accurately, I didn't knock doors because (a) I'm a big chicken who (b) justified cowardice with the claim I was busy.

But I did go along sometimes as chauffeur, guide and occasional petter of dogs that might or might not have been hostile.

Doing that gives a guy new appreciation for people who display their house numbers prominently and a lingering suspicion that some houses do not exist (or rise from beneath the surface Brigadoon-like only during quadrennial elections).

You also quickly learn that the layouts of our towns do not always make sense --- even though they may once have.

In Russell one Saturday afternoon we were looking for a house I was kind of familiar with because I went to school in that district many years ago. In the intervening years, the railroad crossing that once allowed the street it was on to jump the tracks had been closed. So we set out into sparsely populated northwest Russell to find another approach, then discovered that the weeds were taller than the street signs. I was necessary to stop the car, get out, part the weeds and look up in order to figure out where to turn. In this case, a machete would have been useful campaign equipment.

In Chariton, after careful consideration, I've declared York Avenue a contender for Most Confusing Street.

York has been York since the 17th of February 1896 when, for some reason, city elders decided to rename all the streets in town. And so by an ordinance of that date it was declared, "The fourth street south of Court Avenue shall be known as York Avenue."

York starts in an area of southeast Chariton known to some of us still as White City. You'll find four blocks of York Avenue there between South 1st Street and South 5th Street. Logically, that might be all there is. But you have to remember that during 1913 what now are the Union Pacific railroad tracks were cut through east Chariton, kind of cutting White City off.

So after a detour down to Business 34 and west through the underpass, you discover another block of York between South 6th and South 7th. Then it seems to end.

But we had two addresses on York Avenue that were too high to be in the east part of town, so had to keep looking.

Finally, we found the last stretch of York Avenue --- a block of gravel that skitters along a pretty hillside --- the equivalent of six blocks to the west, not far southwest of where I live. As it turned out, we found one family at home there and the other, not. And I'd previously had no idea York Avenue was down there, barely out of sight.

My only advice, if you make a friend who lives on York Avenue in Chariton and are invited to visit --- print out the Google map before you set out.

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