A lot has changed in the last 75 years. I don’t need to detail that here. But I have occasionally wondered how Pud would respond if he suddenly appeared among us. Who’s driving all these big truck-like cars? When did every town start looking the same? What is everyone staring at, eyes lowered, as they walk along the sidewalk? Why will no one make eye contact?
If he had the chance to head back to The Last Resort, however, he might be pleased to learn that the area near his camp on Salt River has not changed all that much. The property has new owners and the wooden cabin has been taken down by the ravages of time (although the limestone chimney the boys built is still standing).
Coming from Lawrenceburg, he would pass a large commercial area he probably could never have imagined, as well as a high school, an elementary school, and a couple of subdivisions. But a few miles out, he would still recognize the entrance to Powell-Taylor Road and the remains of the rock quarry on the right. As he turned left on the road to the camp, he would see the cemetery on the right. To the left of the road, the river looks pretty much the same. And, sure, there are a few new houses along the road to the camp, but the character of the road has not changed dramatically. It’s still largely farmland. There are no subdivisions. The road has not been widened, even though it is now paved.
That’s also true of Rice Road on the north side of the river. It still feels like a rural road you would expect to find much farther from town. In fact, the unimproved river crossing on Rice Road that Pud and his buddies used regularly to get to camp has not changed at all. Cars still have to drive across the slate river bed to get to the other side. There is no bridge. In the low-water summer months, you may see families there, cars or trucks parked in the river as they wade or hang out on innertubes or fish. But when the water level is high, traversing Rice Crossing can be extremely dangerous. It is frequently impassable.
This is the type of inconvenience few of us experience in today's United States. But it puts a smile on my face every time I drive this road. In our fast-moving, unpredictable world, it gives me a sense of calm to know that some things have not changed. Some things are still good enough, just the way they’ve been for generations.
Sometimes it’s OK to slow down, to be forced to take the winding road, to simply enjoy the beauty of a spot without considering how it might be made better.