Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Squires Tower

Down home, at the edge of the Mark Twain National Forest, we had towers where forest rangers watched for fires. Seriously. Someone sat in the hut at the top, sweeping the area through binoculars. If they spotted something, they used their shortwave radio to alert others.

Very few fire towers in the Ozark Mountains are manned any more. I suppose satellite technology replaced a guy with binoculars. But nothing will ever replace the thrill of sitting at the top of those stairs, late at night as a storm rolled in. About now you may be thinking that it's not terribly smart to sit at the top of a metal structure on the highest point in the county as a storm rolls in.

You're right: It wasn't smart. But it's one of the enduring memories of my teenage years. As soon as I got a driver's license and found a good excuse to get away from the house for an hour or so, I started going to this tower and the one on Dogwood Mountain to think. (Very colorful life I lived, at the base of Dogwood Mountain, near Cowskin Creek. Romance wasn't far away. Neither was Diggins. Those are real names of real places.)

When we drove through Squires this weekend, my brother mentioned that he and his friends used to go to the tower to drink. He was surprised to find I'd never done the same. But I never went to the towers with anyone else—check that. I only went to the tower with someone else one time, and there was no drinking involved. Ever. For me, the towers were for thinking, for seeing the world from a different perspective, imagining the sparkling future waiting for me on the other side of those hills.

Squires Tower is chained off and posted with No Trespassing signs these days. Too bad. I would have liked to see the world from up there, just one more time.


Doubting Thomas said...

What a trip through the corridors of memory this little trip was for you.

I wonder if the world would look a lot different now, had you been able to climb it this time.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Love that last line. Bet the world, and everything else from there,looks different now.