On a beautiful spring day about 49 years ago, Les Helgeland, my boss at the P&D, let me borrow his new camera to take some “artsy-crafty” pictures. I headed my new yellow Ford Pinto westward on an old gravel road and stopped at the intersection now known as West City Limits and 21st Street.
The city was contemplating buying some farm land from the state which was being cultivated by employees and patients of the Human Services Center.
I walked onto the property in a north by northwest direction and ended up at the top of a hill in about the area of the current city landfill. There was an old wooden windmill up on that hill and I was using this new camera. One had to look down into the camera to focus. I was trying to get the rays of the setting sun juuuuuust right among the blades of the windmill.
And then I got one of those chills, the one where the hair on the back of your neck curls up?
I looked down just to my right and there was this gaping hole in the ground, about two or three feet in diameter. Another step or two while looking through the lens of the new camera and I would have disappeared from the face of the earth.
Very carefully, I stepped to my left, quite a few steps, and soon I was back at my car and very happy to still be on terra firma, rather than in it.
Two weeks went by, and Kathy and I went to the Elks Lodge for dinner. I happened to see Darrell Radack, superintendent of the Human Services Center, at another table. I took the opportunity to tell him my almost tragic tale. He apologized profusely, saying he would make a call in the morning to staff and get a lid placed on that cistern.
The story made the rounds of our table and then, after another round, I went back to Mr. Radack and told him I wanted to rent that windmill and the small stable nearby. He could not imagine why.
I replied that, according to Sunday television programming, it seemed everyone else was starting a new congregation and I wanted to begin my own church at the windmill. Mr. Radack just could not get the drift of my idea until he learned I would call it “the cistern chapel.”
Darrel Radack had an uproarious laughter and I loved telling him that story just to hear him laugh. How about you?
But I could still be at the bottom of the city landfill. Now that ain’t funny at all! True story.