Some things are irresistible. Wet concrete, for instance. Not many can resist setting a penny or writing initials in a wet sidewalk once the workers pack up their shovels and drive off. Forty years ago or so, someone gave into this urge (According to the Orangeville Works Department, this sidewalk was poured in the late 70’s or early 80’s). I was out for a walk late last summer (2013) and found where someone had left his mark in the sidewalk on the south side of Church Street in Orangeville, just east of the train tracks.
I have a picture of a summer’s evening, warm and bright. The Works Department crew has left and the concrete in the new sidewalk is curing. A young man sees the caution barrier and the wet concrete and gets an idea. He takes off his shoes and socks and runs down the sidewalk, his arms waving wildly and his feet barely staying under him. The wet concrete squishes a bit underfoot and leaves a white rime on his soles. As he runs, he shouts at the top of his voice, nothing intelligible, just exuberance. Someone reading the paper on this front porch looks up, shakes his head and mutters, “Kids”. Maybe there were other boys there – buddies who dared him to do it – but I think he’d have done it anyway. It looks like they have tried a couple of times over the years to repair the footprints, but they’re still there and will be at least until the time comes to replace the concrete. Sidewalks have a life of 50 or 60 years, so they’ll be there for a few more years at least.