Over the levee

This has nothing to do with the work on our building. But, it is about the neighborhood –  interesting to us nonetheless.

We’re a little late to the game in reading about things going on in Portland. But, picked up the August Louisville magazine the other day and read the article “The Portland Puzzle”. The last paragraph said, “‘You don’t go over the floodwall.'”  I don’t doubt that’s good advice, but it made me laugh a little. Twice last summer we were near that spot (32nd and Rudd). The first time we were on the right side of the floodwall. The second time – we went over. Both times were memorable.

The first time,  we were looking at a building at 32nd and Rudd – where the cobblestone street ends at the levee and Rudd dead-ends. (Very cool building – it used to be a saloon). The beams supporting the floor (or maybe they’re called joists) are huge and spaced a little more closely than typical. We were wondering if that’s because the place housed kegs/barrels. Anyway – very cool.

It is afternoon, warm, and late spring. We’re standing there counting the number of boarded up windows – there are kids walking on the bike path and riding a dirt-bike up and down that stretch of path. The bike path is closed there, but it’s green space and car-free so it attracts kids. School was still in session. The girls are walking together and skinny, shirtless boys are on bikes and dirt bikes. They are all chatting, etc.

We aren’t paying attention to them until we hear yelling. We look up. We think maybe there is a fight so we watch for a second. But, the kids are all gathered in a circle looking down at something and it soon is apparent there’s a kid on the ground. So we run up the levee to see if everyone is okay.

One of the boys on a dirt bike collided head-on with one of the girls walking. She is flat on her back and kind of quietly moaning on the grass next to the bike path. The kids are all looking at her, but not touching her. Just looking at her. She is there with her brother who is a little older and obviously feels responsible for her because he is pacing back and forth wailing, “It’s all my fault.” The older boy, probably 13 or 14 on the dirt bike just keeps saying, “I’m sorry. I told her to move. I’m sorry.” We question him to see how they collided and it seems neither could decide on a lane. They each feinted in different directions. And he drove straight over her. They’re scared and have no idea what to do. We don’t either, really.

Her side and forearms are completely scraped and covered in black from the asphalt. She isn’t speaking words or answering questions. Just moaning. We don’t know if she might have internal injuries or a head wound. She’s not talking or opening her eyes so we can’t tell how seriously she is injured. We elevate her feet and cover her (all we can remember from ancient first-aid classes). We debate a split-second because calling 911 would mean the parents will be billed for the services.

The police arrive first, then her dad. Her brother has run home to get him. He’s kind of a big guy, he climbs the hill fast. He starts yelling at the boys on the dirt bikes, “I told you all not to be riding those things up here”. The boys look a little terrified and keep mumbling apologies. Then the fire department arrives, then the mom. It seems like maybe she lives in a different place from the dad. When she arrives, he tries to keep her from being hysterical and out of the way of the EMTs. He’s obviously worried. He seems worried, but not too thrilled with all the police, fire and medical personnel. It starts to feel a little dramatic. We slip back down the levee as they are putting her on a stretcher.

The second time – we’re thinking someone was running from the cops. It felt a little like something from a television crime show. I’ll have to finish this later.

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