A few weeks after the last bell of school would ring, Louis would leave the grit of the city and travel four hours east into the hills of the country. The youngest of five boys, his mother and aunt decided that it would be best if he spent the bulk of the summer with his cousins who were nearly the same age.
The families would meet halfway and have lunch at Der Dutchman and the Louis and his things would be transferred from one vehicle to another and Louis would spend then next two hours in the back seat with his cousin Matthew preparing plans for the next three months.
Although Louis didn’t know it at the time, this would be his last year spending the summer in the country. He would live, as usual, with his cousin and Aunt and Uncle on Oak street, but one of his other cousins lived just two blocks over and down the street on Elm Ave. Matthew was his cousin on his mother’s side of the family, Janet, two years older than the boys, was his cousin on Louis’ father’s side of the family. Eddy was the youngest cousin of all, he lived well outside of town, his mother was Louis’ sister and she was married to Uncle Ed who carried a gun to work.
The best part of the trip, after the plotting and planning with Matthew, was after his Aunt turned the car off the interstate and headed into town. The final miles started near the highest point east of the Mississippi and wended down, down, down into the valley, into town. Louis could see the low buildings, the hills, the power plant, radar hill, the river at the bottom of the valley and would take it all in, ears popping as the car descended from the heavens to the earth.
They would travel through town, Matthew’s house was at the far end of the other end of town. Louis’ eyes wouldn’t blink as they drove past the newspaper office, the comic book store, the old one screen movie theatre, the abandoned High School across the street from the brand new Library. He would see the apartment building where his grandparent’s lived, the one that his Uncle Bill owned where he and Matthew would help trim the lawn and earn some money to run over the bridge and purchase the newest comic books.
Toward the end of their journey they would pass the Catholic school, the Lutheran and Methodist churches and the old folks home at the end of Elm Ave. Turning on Elm they would finally pass the candy store, it sold more than just candy, but that was all Louis, Matthew and Janet were interested in buying there.
Finally they would pass Janet’s house and turn left to go up the one lane yellow bricked alley on the way to Matthew’s house. The alley crossed other alleys and narrow roads and pavement was left well behind as the red four door Ford would downshift to gain traction and make it’s way up to Oak Street.
Houses would begin to get further and further apart as they got closer to Louis’ home for the next few months. Dust billowed behind the car as they finally arrive. The big white house was a nineteenth century behemoth, setting on a plot of land right at the edge of town. Louis’ Uncle Bill said he bought the house because it was the closest house to the country while being the closest house to town as well. Uncle Bill worked at the Bank in the center of town, right at the corner of Center and Main.
Oak street practically ended in front of the house, the gravely road dipped precipitously in front of the house, quickly turning from gravel to dirt to grass as it dropped down and away from the house, eventually running into a narrow, boarded up abandoned mine tunnel into the side of the hill. The alley next to the house was equally short lived, it started up the side of the hill and was well maintained up to the driveway that led to the retrofitted barn that was now the garage, but continued up the side of the hill as a dirt path that some vehicles could follow, but few would choose to.
Louis had arrived. The exciting months of summer had finally arrived. Adventures up the hill had been planned, excursions with the Wurster boys down the road were just moments away, horse riding, camp visits, shooting with Uncle Ed and his cousin Eddy way out in the woods, and he and Matthew even planned a trip to visit the mysterious radar at the top of Radar hill on the other side of town.
This summer would be epic.