Crossed that bridge, never looked back

Published 3:00 am Saturday, August 22, 2015

I said I never would forget that bridge. It was more than 40 years ago that I crossed it with pounding heart, trembling hands, rigid body, and a prayer on my lips. I still remember that August day.

I had marked an appointment on my calendar at the Star-News for an interview with a man who owned a log house. Not much had changed since the house was built. His sister had set up the appointment with me for a feature story. It was located somewhere out in the woods. When she began to give me directions, we agreed it was easier for me to follow her there than it was for her to tell me how to find it. She probably knew every crook and turn of every road in Covington County. We met at the office. I followed along behind. I noticed that she carried on an animated conversation with her sister who was with her. I knew that drive to their brother’s was just about as automatic as breathing for her. The house was in the area where she grew up.

Things were moving along well. It did not surprise me when we made turns here and there, sometimes from paved roads to dirt roads, then vice-versa. Then she led me onto an unpaved road on which we traveled quite a distance. I was enjoying being out. The day was pleasant and I loved the tranquil scenery—grazing cattle, old home sites, and beautiful butterflies flitting by.

My contented mood suddenly changed when I found myself entering a dilapidated bridge. The car in front was leaving it, the driver happily jabbering away to her companion. Over in front of me I saw a piece of wood sticking up. I thought there was no way I could steer to miss it. I was afraid to back up and petrified to continue forward because my hands were shaking so hard.

I slowed to a crawl. “Lord,” I whispered, “help me get across this bridge. I promise you I will NEVER cross it again.” I have no memory of edging on over that bridge, but it is what I had to have done. I only regained my senses as I pulled to a stop behind my leader’s car. I got out of my car and wobbled on my weak knees to her car.

“Were you scared of that bridge?” she asked, noting my shaking hands and the pallor in my face.

I nodded. “Not scared. Terrified.”

“I figured it wouldn’t bother you, but my sister thought it might,” she said.

“Please just tell me how to get back to Andalusia without crossing that bridge. I don’t care if it is 50 miles out of the way,” I pleaded. She did. After the interview, I found my way back to the office with a thankful heart.

The next time we saw each other, we reminisced about that rickety old bridge. And had a big laugh. No, I have not forgotten.


Nina Keenam is a retired newspaper reporter.