The Gravel Pit
used to go to the Killins gravel pit on Sundays in the summer and fall, when it was closed. The four of us were trespassing, just like the four friends in Stand By Me, and we had been forbidden to go there by our parents, which made it even more enticing.
We grew up in Lakewood, the subdivision that sits between Jackson and Liberty on the west side of town. When we were younger, we were happy playing in its namesake lakes and woods. But when we got to be eleven or twelve, we wanted to extend our horizons and go outward.
We got to the gravel pit by cutting through the schoolyard and then through the field behind it, where another neighborhood is now. And then--our most daunting task--we'd run across Liberty Road, dodging the cars that zipped by at forty miles an hour. We had a few close calls, but we always made it.
I still remember the first time we climbed the steep hill up to the ridge of the pit: sand as far as we could see. We were sitting there taking it in, when Norm, one of my more adventuresome friends, suggested if we jumped off the edge, the sand would be soft enough to absorb our fall. We resisted at first, and then Norm decided to leap, and his fifty-foot fall was indeed broken by the sand pile below. Even though the climb back up to the top was exhausting, we continued to jump off the ridge for the rest of the afternoon. I've never tried bungee jumping, but the sensation must be similar.