Behind the scenes on Meadowood Court — the great fire, bike racing, and the Flat Rock

Through my early years, several Meadowood Court  news events stand out in my mind.  One, the tale of Marc Rothschild injuring the Jurow brothers, will be the subject of its own blog post in the next few days.  So will my daring descent of the Dunlop Hill on my dad’s old 29-inch bike, a feat never done before, and one that nearly killed me!  But I want to speak here about 3 things that occurred “in the woods” behind the even numbered houses on our court.  Behind the scenes, you might say.

A well-defined walking path existed at the ridge of the steep hill that separates Meadowood from Dunlop.  A carretera franca, the path was my way to travel up and down the street, and also to get away from the intense pressures of being a kid [note: slightly overdone description– fix later].  There were a few impasses: an aggressive pricker bush occasionally, an unruly root that threatened to puncture an English racer tire.  Past the Clark’s House, the Fields, Nehrbases, Welges, Loughlins, Blazes, and finally, at the end of the trail, the Jurows (now the Girraputos).

A frequent destination for me (and some select friends), a place for meditation, an almost magical place, was Flat Rock.  Located somewhere (my muses swore me to secrecy) behind 8 and 10 Meadowood, nearly engulfed in prickers, Flat Rock was about 20 feet in diameter, black (it glistened like onyx after a rainshower [], and was absolutely invisible from the path. I would pack a PB&J, fill my Boy Scout issue canteen with water, and brave a thousand sticks to get to my perch, unseen by any human.

The Great Fire was a misnomer, for sure.  It was a very local conflagration, the news of which traveled the Court like… well… wildfire!  Ann Welge, who lived at 12 Meadowood with her two brothers, John and Peter, was about 11 or 12 at the time she piled newspapers on the path, and set them ablaze.  It was spring, after school, and I remember the smoke, which commonly filled our nostrils on weekends (in those days, residents were allowed to burn leaves in front of their houses in metal garbage cans), but rare on a weekday.  We speculated whether Ann would be prosecuted, but that was a little dramatic, since the fire was quickly and easily contained by Mrs. Welge.

Bike races in the neighborhood were common, around the block, which was only Henhawk to Woodhollow, to Turtle Cove, to Briarfield, and back to the stop sign/bus stop at the foot of Meadowood.  After the “New Neighborhood” was built in the late 1960s (connecting the west end of Turtle Cove to the north end of Briarfield– you can spot the different home styles on your next walk), there was a big loop that was about a third larger than the smaller one, and used mostly in races by the big kids (my brother and his peers).  But the path in back of my house, extending to the turnaround near Diane, Jackie, and Tara’s houses, was a hotbed of time trial racing for my crowd.  The uncertainty of the terrain, and the necessity to keep the noise down, since we were semi-trespassing, made our runs exhilarating.

I haven’t tried to walk the path in perhaps 40 years.  The Flat Rock? I bet the deer many of us have spotted know where it is, but I hope they watch out for the prickers!




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