Side Walk

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     Tis composed of three walks of cypress-trees:

each side-walk leads to a cave… Tempest i. II

Shakespeare on side-walks.

We use side-walks, paved with concrete, gravel or asphalt, because we don’t want to step into traffic, either the traffic of wagons and carriages drawn–through muddy streets–by horses or the traffic of gasping cars and wheezing trucks.  In order to be safe and arrive clean, we walk to the side of the major activity; those of us who walk are not as much in a hurry as those who are driving one thing or another through the streets. Walkers, who may or may not be plugged into a walk-man, get to see each passer-by without a window between the other. Maybe not close up and personal, but close enough to smile or tip a hat that signals a greeting, like “Hello”! or “Have a good day”.  Side-walks may lead to a cave, but not necessarily.

Side-walks to caves are probably not paved except in gravel or sand. These paths probably started out as a side thought or a second thought or a memory that said, “By the way wasn’t that over there at one time”?  Side-thoughts are those ideas that jump into our minds from the shelf of good ideas. While we welcome them, sometimes we lose our way and we become side-tracked. Side-tables are there so that mail and keys can be dropped on the way in and collected up on the way out. Women used to ride side-saddle, a good way to get hurt, as if riding a horse were a side-thought. Interestingly enough, the word side-show was first used in 1855; its meaning at that time was a minor incident, a subordinate matter, or an affair, which might lead one to have a side-slip, a child out of wedlock.

Side-walks are a major way for walkers to get from point A to point B. A walker is focused and can’t do much else than walk.  Unlike a walker, a driver may be unfocused and shave, eat, text, drink, or watch pretty girls or hunky men.  A walker can see beyond the scope of a wind shield and can take the time to look around at the street signs to find his way without being beeped at, shouted at, or hit by another driver who is probably annoyed at your slowing down to read street signs. There are other uses of the word, side-walk. However, if I wrote about all of them this essay would grow like Pinocheo’s nose.

It has been a long time since the World’s Fair of 1893 ended. Describer’s said many things about the extravagant, stunning buildings as well as the side-walks that connected them, that were made expressly for this fair built in Chicago. Side-walks dotted the fields, and allowed room for the young set to walk past the older. All buildings had been painted white. In order to see the exhibits people had to use side-walks to get to each building. Side-walks got you there. Side-walks were built for the public use in the US by the early 1700s.

These early side-walks were raised about a foot above the roadway for the carriages. By the early 1800s, side-walks were lined with greenery and flowers. And by the late 1800s, side-walks were common place and it was the norm to have graded and planted the side-walks for the pleasure of foot passengers.

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